It was March 2012 and Governor Tom Corbett was facing some harsh questioning over legislation he apparently supported. The bill, sponsored by Republican Kathy Rapp, was called the “Women’s Right to Know Act,” and would have forced women who chose to terminate their pregnancies to watch their ultrasound and, along with their doctor, receive a photograph of said ultrasound.

The stated purpose of the bill was, oddly, not to “torture,” but “inform” women of…something. Many commentators and legislators saw it more as a tactic to guilt women out of their constitutional right to an abortion.

So, during a press conference in the Capitol, Corbett got a question about his support of said bill. Specifically, the governor was asked about legislative language which forces women to watch the ultrasound.

“I don’t know how you make anybody watch,” said Corbett. “OK? Because you just have to close your eyes.”

Thus began a series of gaffes over the Pennsylvania Republican governor’s time in office—mostly around social issues—that are about as painful to watch as I Heart Huckabees. (OK, maybe not that painful.) From women’s rights and household roles to LGBT issues, Corbett has, time and again, made some of the most tone-deaf statements in public. And yesterday, we learned that he did it again. Here are his most awkward moments in no particular order.

‘Close Your Eyes’


Last August the Corbett Administration began fighting against Montgomery County Register of Wills Bruce Hanes over his issuance of marriage licenses to Pennsylvania same-sex couples, before a court had legalized marriage equality. Corbett’s lawyers filed a legal brief against Hanes, and part of their argument was that LGBT marriage was the same as 12-year-olds getting married.

Had the Clerk issued marriage licenses to twelve-year-olds in violation of state law, would anyone seriously contend that each twelve-year-old has a legally enforceable ‘interest’ in his ‘license’ and is entitled to a hearing on the validity of his ‘license,’ else his due process rights be violated?” the brief stated. “Obviously not; there must be something of actual value or legitimacy at issue in order to rise to the level of a legally enforceable interest.”

After a brief outcry, Corbett released an apology, calling the remark inappropriate. “The analogy chosen in the legal brief filed on August 28th is inappropriate,” he said. And that should have been the end of it. But of course it wasn’t.

‘A Much Better Analogy’

Governor Corbett went on CBS 21 in Harrisburg to speak with Sherry Christian a little over a month later. Christian gave him a softball about his lawyers’ analogy to children getting married, and he released what Keystone Politics then called a “full-body cringe” of an answer.

“There was a controversial remark made by a member of your legal team,” Christian said, “comparing gay marriage to the union of 12-year olds, saying both are illegal, which you called inappropriate.”

“It was an inappropriate analogy, you know, I think a much better analogy would be a brother and sister, don’t you?”

Shocked, Christian paused and could only muster up: “I don’t know.” There was an awkward laugh. Corbett would apologize again.

‘A lot of the women want to go and buy a bottle of wine’

On a local program last month, Tom Corbett was asked about the state’s liquor laws, which he has unsuccessfully tried to reform throughout his tenure in office.

In an apparent appeal to women on the issue, Corbett noted allowing stores to sell beer, liquor and wine all in the same store would save women time making dinner, because as everyone knows, only women prepare dinner for their families.

“I think a lot of people want to be able to walk into a grocery store, particularly, a lot of the women, want to go and buy a bottle of wine for dinner, go down, buy a six-pack or two six-packs, buy dinner and go home rather than what I described as three stops in Pennsylvania,” he said.

What makes these videos so awkward is that it’s clear the governor thinks he’s making sense. Clearly no one told him, “Go on TV and lighten up the gay stuff by comparing marriage equality to incest. That wins votes.” And yet, there he is, saying what literally no one is thinking. Makes you wonder what other views he holds that he just hasn’t been asked about, yet.

About The Author

Staff writer

Randy LoBasso is the winner of the Pennsylvania Newsmedia Association's 2014 Distinguished Writing Award for his news and politics coverage at Philadelphia Weekly. He has also contributed to Alt Ledes, Salon, The Guardian and PennLive.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.