It’s Friday. And, aside from everyone complaining about the time of year when Congress goes on a long vacation despite not really doing much the rest of the year, it’s a pretty slow news day.
How do political reporters react to this phenomenon? By making some of their favourite jokes on Twitter, of course. Basically, political twitterers have a habit of recycling the same joke over and over and over again.
Here, we catalogue and explain the origin of 17 of the most widely used jokes (in no particular order).(Disclaimer: Most of these are promoted by Slate reporter Dave Weigel.)
1. Obama’s “pivot”
Political reporters — and Republican campaign operatives — love joking about when President Barack Obama makes a “pivot” — particularly if it involves talking about the usually important topic of the economy. Recently, the biggest news is that Obama is planning a slew of speeches tailored to the economy, so:
Morning Examiner: Obama’s eighth pivot to jobs http://t.co/5knB2wz8FJ
— Conn Carroll (@conncarroll) July 22, 2013
Exclusive video preview of the President preparing for his 90th pivot to jobs speech today –> http://t.co/30xHC2J7Nn
— Tim Miller (@Timodc) July 22, 2013
NBC’s Chuck Todd on “pivot” speech: “He doesn’t have anything new to say – he’s just going to say it differently?” http://t.co/S49pPPV6Si
— NRCC (@NRCC) July 22, 2013
This joke grew out of the conservative phenomenon that the 2012 election polls were “skewed” in favor of Obama, which turned out not to be the case. So now, every time a poll shows an unexpectedly good result for a Democrat, the jokes come out in full force:
— daveweigel (@daveweigel) August 1, 2013
— Simon Maloy (@SimonMaloy) August 1, 2013
3. “Crucial” Waukesha county
Slate’s Dave Weigel, one of the main perpetrators of this joke about an obscure county in Wisconsin, explains its origins:
In 2011, Democrats thought they had won the state Supreme Court race in WI — the first election since the big union-busting bill. The next day, an uncounted cache of votes from Waukesha County switched the result and the Republican won. Months later, the exact same thing happened in a State Senate race, so they went from thinking they’d won the Senate to not winning it.
In the end, Morsi couldn’t make up for his lack of support in crucial Waukesha County.
— daveweigel (@daveweigel) July 3, 2013
Looking tight on this House vote. Going to come down to crucial Waukesha County.
— daveweigel (@daveweigel) January 2, 2013
— daveweigel (@daveweigel) November 1, 2012
Another favorite cliche of political pundits is that the results on Election Day will “all come down to turnout.” These are in jest:
It’ll all come down to turnout RT @LoganDobson: Did the Israeli election end up coming down to crucial Waukesha nafa?
— Rick Wilson (@TheRickWilson) January 22, 2013
The only poll that matters is the one on the day when it all comes down to turnout.
— Chris Moody (@Chris_Moody) November 5, 2012
Political pundits like to declare “gaffes” during the campaign, but this one really took off when a reporter infamously asked Republican candidate Mitt Romney, “What about your gaffes?!” — the one-year anniversary of which happened to fall on Wednesday.
— Igor Bobic (@igorbobic) July 31, 2013
— Simon Maloy (@SimonMaloy) July 24, 2013
In which things that have nothing to do with Obama are jokingly blamed on Obama:
— Josh Greenman (@joshgreenman) July 31, 2013
My bus is now driving down the wrong street. #ObamasAmerica
— Byron Tau (@ByronTau) July 17, 2013
— Alex Yudelson (@AlexYudelson) July 17, 2013
Similar to #ObamasAmerica. They’re interchangeable, really:
UNBELIEVABLE. You can’t even call someone a slutbag without getting in trouble for it. #ThanksObama
— Paul Szoldra (@PaulSzoldra) July 31, 2013
Dammit now I have Call Me Maybe stuck in my head. THANKS OBAMA.
— Chris Moody (@Chris_Moody) July 30, 2013
5-0 making us detour around White House to HuffPo beer summit. #thanksobama
— Tim Murphy (@timothypmurphy) July 11, 2013
In which Obama deserves impeachment, either for things he didn’t do or miniscule things that are not that big of a deal:
— Asawin Suebsaeng (@swin24) July 26, 2013
— Lachlan Markay (@lachlan) July 10, 2013
— Hayes Brown (@HayesBrown) July 10, 2013
— Justin Green (@JGreenDC) June 24, 2013
— Stefan Becket (@stefanjbecket) July 31, 2013
9. Arne Duncan
New York Times columnist Tom Friedman made something of an incomprehensible case for Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to be the next Secretary of State last November. So now, political reporters nominate him for just about any and every obscure post:
Arne Duncan for Father of Amanda Bynes’ Children
— Josh Barro (@jbarro) July 4, 2013
Arne Duncan for Fed Chair.
— Matt O’Brien (@ObsoleteDogma) June 18, 2013
Arne Duncan for Mayor of Toronto
— Josh Barro (@jbarro) May 20, 2013
This joke started after Scott Brown’s Senate victory in 2010, when pundits began predicting doom for Democrats that never really ended up being as bad as forecasted.
— daveweigel (@daveweigel) July 18, 2013
I have one last thing to say about this election. #demsindisarray
— daveweigel (@daveweigel) November 7, 2012
— Matt McDermott (@mattmfm) August 1, 2013
11. “Smart take”
Use this to snark at things that are obviously not smart takes:
— Lachlan Markay (@lachlan) August 2, 2013
— Kim Bhasin (@KimBhasin) July 30, 2013
If you actually want to say something is a “smart take,” and don’t intend to be sarcastic, what do you say?
— Blake Hounshell (@blakehounshell) July 6, 2013
Snarking at the grandiosity of the annual Aspen Ideas Festival:
Replace Morsi with Ed Snowden. #AspenIdeas
— Matt Yglesias (@mattyglesias) July 2, 2013
— Rick Wilson (@TheRickWilson) July 1, 2013
A sarcastic hashtag meme by people who weren’t invited. #aspenideas
— Blake Hounshell (@blakehounshell) June 30, 2013
This one sort of speaks for itself. But a lot of it, lately, has involved Anthony Weiner
— David A. Graham (@GrahamDavidA) July 29, 2013
— Tim Miller (@Timodc) July 30, 2013
NSFW MT @joelmsiegel: They’ll cite Weiner’s ’13 campaign in public relations courses. His drip, drip, drip of disclosures breaks every rule.
— Josh Greenman (@joshgreenman) July 25, 2013
14. Making fun of “The Newsroom”
This usually involves pointing out that “The Newsroom” covers events two years after the reporters tweeting about them have covered the events:
— Matthew Zeitlin (@MattZeitlin) July 29, 2013
Romney used to be pro-choice? Man, The Newsroom teaches you so much.
— Dylan Matthews (@dylanmatt) July 29, 2013
Really can’t wait to see how The Newsroom covers the royal baby.
— Igor Bobic (@igorbobic) July 22, 2013
15. Karl Rove still thinks something could happen.
Karl Rove famously melted down on Election Night last November, refusing to believe something that was 99.9% certain — that Mitt Romney was about to lose the election. Reporters and politicos now like to imagine the other things he thinks still have a chance of happening:
Karl Rove still thinks Morsi has a chance at being president.
— Brett LoGiurato (@BrettLoGiurato) July 3, 2013
— Brendan Loy (@brendanloy) July 20, 2013
Karl Rove still says there’s a chance it might be a girl
— Joseph Weisenthal (@TheStalwart) July 22, 2013
16. Making fun of CNN
Reporters love gaffes. But perhaps the biggest gaffe of all came from CNN during last year’s campaign, when it — along with others — reported incorrectly that the Supreme Court had struck down the Affordable Care Act as unconstitutional.
Now, apparently, they’re getting everything wrong:
cnn reporting no one has the right to vote anymore
— Steve Kovach (@stevekovach) June 25, 2013
CNN now reporting that SCOTUS does NOT take American Express.
— Jason L. Sparks (@sparksjls) June 20, 2013
Wait CNN is reporting the asteroid will miss Earth? This may be cause for alarm.
— Erin Faulk (@erinscafe) May 31, 2013
17. “This is like that scene in ‘The Town.'”
During the debt ceiling fight in 2011, House Republican leadership played a clip of “The Town,” starring Ben Affleck, to rally members around House Majority Leader John Boehner’s plan that ultimately blew up.
The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein first mocked it after the plan ultimately failed:
This is like that scene in the Town where they decided to rob the bank later, maybe, and so the screen went dark for awhile.
— Ezra Klein (@ezraklein) July 28, 2011
And now it’s become a way to describe the lack of unity in the House GOP conference:
This is just like that scene in The Town where the gerrymandered white people can’t agree on immigration reform.
— Brian Beutler (@brianbeutler) July 10, 2013