In Washington, even the smallest faux pas can hurtle a politician from respected to ridiculed as fast as you can say partisanship.
And there was no shortage of cringe-worthy political screw-ups this year. From Hillary Clinton’s “dead broke” gaffe to John Boehner’s “blank agenda,” here are nine of the top political missteps of 2014:
|Hillary Clinton: ‘Dead Broke’|
Hint: When you’re a bajillionaire, people tend to bristle when you complain about being poor.
Former first lady, Senator, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – who routinely rakes in hundreds of thousands of dollars per speech – said in an interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer that she and President Bill Clinton were “dead broke” when they left the White House.
"We had no money when we got there, and we struggled to, you know, piece together the resources for mortgages, for houses, for Chelsea's education. You know, it was not easy," Clinton told Sawyer in June.
Critics cried foul, calling the potential presidential candidate rusty and out of touch with real Americans.
|Michael Grimm: Balcony Blunder|
If you’re going to threaten a reporter for asking a question, better do it off-camera.
“Do that to me again, I’ll throw you off this f***ing balcony,” he snarled to NY1 reporter Michael Scotto. “I’ll break you in half. Like a boy.”
At first, the congressman refused to beg pardon, instead slamming the reporter’s “disrespectful and cheap shots.” But later, he apologized, saying, “Bottom line, I was wrong. It never should have happened … I’m sure my Italian mother is going to be yelling at me, saying ‘you weren’t raised that way,’ and she’s right.”
Grimm pleaded guilty to a felony tax charge earlier this month.
|Jonathan Gruber: Caught on Camera|
In a series of videos unearthed this November, the economics professor-turned-Obamacare-adviser called the president’s signature initiative “a very clever… basic exploitation of the lack of economic understanding of the American voter.”
He also claimed that American voters are too stupid to understand the difference” between different kinds of taxes and said that the “lack of transparency” in the law was a “huge political advantage.”
At a Congressional hearing in December, Gruber apologized for his “glib, thoughtless and sometimes downright insulting comments.”
|Elizabeth Lauten: Social Media #Fail|
As one Capitol Hill aide learned this year, attacking the first daughters is strictly taboo.
The communications director for Rep. Stephen Fincher, R-Tenn., publicly scolded Malia, 13, and Sasha, 16, for their dress and demeanor at the White House Turkey Pardoning.
“Try showing a little class,” Elizabeth Lauten wrote on Facebook. “Dress like you deserve respect, not a spot at the bar.”
A teary-eyed Lauten apologized and resigned the following week.
|Alison Grimes: Secret Ballot|
Obama wasn’t particularly popular this election season. So as Republicans attempted to pin their opponents the president, Democrats did all they could to distance themselves from the commander-in-chief.
None more so perhaps, than Sen. Mitch McConnell’s challenger, Alison Lundergan Grimes.
The Kentucky Democrat refused to say whether she’d voted for the president in 2012 – not once, but multiple times.
“Our constitution grants us here in Kentucky the constitutional right for privacy at the ballot box, for a secret ballot,” she said during a debate in October. “I am not going to compromise a constitutional right provided here in Kentucky in order to curry favor on one or other side or for members of the media.”
Grimes went on to lose the election by 15 points.
|Bruce Bailey Supporters: Bruce Who?|
Poor Bruce Braley. No one seemed able to get his name right on the campaign trail this year.
While stumping for Braley, a Democrat vying for Iowa’s open Senate seat, first lady Michelle Obama mistakenly called the candidate Bruce Bailey at least seven times – and even referred supporters to Vote.BruceBailey.com. (Hours later, Braley’s Republican opponent, now-Sen. Joni Ernst, snapped up a similar domain, votebrucebailey.com, which redirected to her campaign site.)
Former President Bill Clinton also accidentally referred to Braley as Bruce Bailey at Sen. Tom Harkin’s steak fry event in Iowa. And Republican Mitt Romney, stumping for Ernst, got Bruce’s last name right, but goofed on his first name, calling him Bill.
|President Obama: Latte Salute|
The commander-in-chief saluted two Marines with a coffee cup in his hand. The White House inexplicably posted a video on Instagram. People weren’t happy.
|Sarah Palin: Wrong Address|
In an impassioned speech at the Value Voters Summit in September, former Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin took aim at the president.
“Don’t retreat. You reload with truth, which I know is an endangered species at 1400 Pennsylvania Avenue, anyway truth,” Palin said. “The media’s favorite president. He just can’t stop telling lies.”
One little problem: The White House is located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
|John Boehner: ‘Blank Agenda’|
In October, House Speaker John Boehner tweeted outlined “5 Points for Resetting America’s Economic Foundation.”
Trouble is, Boehner left the five points blank, setting himself up for a medley of mocking tweets from Democratic lawmakers – including a several suggestions “for your blank agenda” from Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.