Century Marks: Voices of 2008

December 30, 2008
© The New Yorker Collection 2008 Drew Dernavich from cartoonbank.com.All rights reserved.

Voices of 2008

“I have come to the conclusion after two years of debate on immigration without success that it’s going to take the love of Jesus Christ to bring people together.”
Senator Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa), speaking on the contentious subject of immigration reform

“Try to find another way to help or find your goal. This bomb, this weapons, it’s not good to use it for anybody.”
Omar bin Laden, son of Osama bin Laden, speaking against the violence inspired by his father

“It is clear to me that the problem of torture is like a bone caught in our national throat. We can’t swallow it, but we can’t quite spit it out. And so we are choking on it.”
David Gushee, professor of Christian ethics at Mercer University, on allegations that the Bush administration has condoned the use of torture in interrogations of terrorism suspects

“For the first time in history, we are no longer on top.”
Monsignor Vittorio Formenti, on data that show Muslims now make up a larger percentage of the world’s population than Catholics (19.2 percent to 17.4 percent)

“I am deeply ashamed, and we will do what is possible so this cannot happen again in the future.”
Pope Benedict XVI, addressing the clergy sex-abuse scandal that has cost the Catholic Church more than $2 billion and distressed the U.S. Catholic community

“We failed to accurately represent the Lord and to fulfill the commandment to love others as ourselves.”
—Statement from Bob Jones University about its refusal to admit black students until 1971 and its ban on interracial dating, lifted in 2000

“Don’t think about dying. Think about living.”
—Former White House press secretary Tony Snow, speaking to cancer patients; Snow died of cancer last summer

“I guess my cousin Barack has sat through some mighty riveting sermons over the years. If he gets elected, you’re not going to want to miss those Washington prayer breakfasts.”
—Vice President Dick Cheney, speaking about his distant relative Barack Obama and Obama’s former pastor, Jeremiah Wright

“[God] owns everything; he owns the gas. All we need to do is ask, and we shall receive.”
—Seventh-day Adventist Rocky Twyman of Rockville, Maryland, explaining why he holds vigils to pray for lower fuel prices

“I’d like to see the CEOs of these companies march down Wall Street in sackcloth and ashes.”
—ABC News analyst Cokie Roberts, about the Wall Street executives who are asking Washington to bail out their companies

“There’s no question about it. Wall Street got drunk.”
—President George W. Bush, explaining the credit crisis

“She scares me. She’s Jerry Falwell with a pretty face.”
—Retired American Baptist pastor Howard Bess of Palmer, Alaska, who says his book, Pastor, I Am Gay, was on a “hit list” of books that vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin wanted banned when she was mayor of neighboring Wasilla

“Although we weren’t able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you it’s got about 18 million cracks in it.”
Hillary Clinton to those who voted for her, upon announcing her support for Barack Obama

“Today, reality in America has superseded fantasy. . . . Americans have struck a deadly blow to racism all over the world.”
Dawood al-Shirian, prominent Saudi columnist, on Barack Obama’s victory

“I would . . . advise you not to take on other people’s enemies. Most damage that others do to us is out of fear, humiliation and pain. . . . We must learn actually not to have enemies, but only confused adversaries who are ourselves in disguise.”
Alice Walker in an open letter to President-elect Barack Obama

“President Bush has an exit strategy for only one man, himself, on January 20, 2009.”
—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, on the president’s ongoing commitment to keeping U.S. troops in Iraq