The Ultimate 2012 Quiz

Test your knowledge of what did—and didn’t—happen this year with Michael Tomasky’s 2012 quiz.

I just know you’re sitting around avoiding even the small amount of work you told yourself you were going to do between Christmas and New Year’s, and so it is in the spirit of helping you ignore it that I present the Tomasky 2012 Year-End Quiz. I try to make these not mere trivia quizzes, but knowledge quizzes, which is something different in my mind and requires digging a little deeper, making a little more mental effort. But I’m also mindful that you’re just sitting around the house in your pajamas and aren’t very into mental effort, so most of these are in fact fairly easy. Let’s go.

1. Match the ridiculous quote to the ridiculous Republican candidate, and then say where and/or in what context the candidate said it:

“To take an ex-wife and make it two days before the primary a significant question in a presidential campaign is as close to despicable as anything I can imagine.”

“I’m not sure about these cookies. They don’t look like you made them. No, no, they came from the local 7-Eleven.”

“President Obama wants everybody in America to go to college. What a snob ... Oh, I understand why he wants you to go to college. He wants to remake you in his image.”

2. From early February until mid-April, the Syrian Army laid siege to what rebel-stronghold city, resulting in an estimated 700 to 1,000 deaths?

a. Hama

b. Aleppo

c. Homs

d. Idlib

3. The Supreme Court eventually upheld Obamacare when it released its opinion, but you’ll recall that nearly every expert judged the oral arguments to have been a disaster for the administration. Who was the solicitor general who was considered to have stunk up the joint, and who was the former solicitor general who was generally thought to have made a strong case on the conservative side?

a. William Lampelli and Peter Clemons

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b. Donald Verrilli and Paul Clement

c. Doug Kendall and Charles Fried

d. Neal Katyal and Gregory Garre

4. What did George Zimmerman say he whispered—rather, he insisted, than a racial slur—in the moments before shooting Trayvon Martin?

a. “Punks”

b. “Suck on this”

c. “Say your prayers”

d. “Scum”

5. Dick Clark, who passed away in April, obviously left his mark on American entertainment in a number of ways. With which of the following was he not associated?

a. The American Music Awards

b. TV’s Bloopers and Practical Jokes

c. Live Aid

d. Mork and Mindy

6. What movie was showing when James Eagan Holmes opened fire at that multiplex in Aurora, Colo.?

a. Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter

b. The Dark Knight Rises

c. Men in Black III

d. The Avengers

7. This one is not multiple choice, but is open-ended, because you ought to be able to work it out—you should get their identities, if not their names. What duo that became famous over the summer were described by one British columnist as the product of “a one-night stand between a Teletubby and a Dalek”?

8. The political media adopted the phrase “Mittness Protection Program” to refer to what?

a. The way his campaign made sure that he appeared before only friendly audiences and never had to take a tough audience question.

b. His aides’ habit of shielding him from ever reading negative press.

c. His campaign’s use of several Romney look-alikes to fill in at quick campaign stops where remarks weren’t called for and he just had to wave to crowds.

d. His campaign’s strategy of making the candidate have to endure as few interactions with the mainstream media as possible, limiting his appearances to right-wing media as much as they could.

9. The prestigious Man Booker Prize for literature, which goes to a citizen of any of the 54 Commonwealth nations plus Ireland and Zimbabwe, was won by whom in 2012?

a. Hilary Mantel

b. J.M. Coetzee

c. Zadie Smith

d. Michael Frayn

10. Harvard geologist Daniel Schrag, speaking of Hurricane Sandy’s record 13-foot water surge that overcame lower Manhattan, said in the storm’s aftermath that “by mid-century, this will be _____.”

a. “something we’ve forgotten all about”

b. “the new normal”

c. “like nothing compared to what we’re going to see by then”

d. “something that happens conceivably four, five times every year”

11. The name of Chris Stirewalt will likely be lost to history, but that’s really too bad; he deserves to remembered because he:

a. was Mitt Romney’s pollster, who assured Romney right up to election night that he had victory in hand.

b. was the GOP operative who worked for the Ohio secretary of state who was assigned the task of doing everything he could to limit early voting in his state.

c. was the person who started the website, which allegedly “corrected” Nate Silver and all the polls showing Obama with a lead.

d. was the Fox News Channel “decision maker” who called Ohio for Obama, then was challenged by Karl Rove and confronted by Megyn Kelly during the channel’s election-night meltdown.

12. What did Newtown killer Adam Lanza and Webster, N.Y., Christmas shooter William Spengler have in common?

a. a Bushmaster .223 rifle

b. both of their mothers took them to firing ranges as a hobby

c. Eagle Scout certificates

d. both were altar boys


1. Ex-wife: Newt Gingrich, in his first remarks at the GOP primary debate in South Carolina; Cookies: Mitt Romney in Pennsylvania, at the home of a middle-class couple who’d bought the confections from a beloved local baker; College/snob: Rick Santorum, speaking to a Tea Party group while campaigning in Michigan.

2. c, Homs. Pretty lame if you didn’t know this, I must say. The only excuse might be confusing it with Hama, the site of the infamous 1982 massacre.

3. b, Verrilli and Clement. Also pretty easy. But until you the read the question, you’d probably forgotten all about this, no? Verrilli is most definitely the Luckiest Man of 2012, at least in the political world.

4. a, Punks. This was kind of a tough one, and I’ll admit I had to look it up. But I didn’t read that coverage all that thoroughly at the time, and maybe you did.

5. d, Mork and Mindy. He developed the American Music Awards, produced TV’s Bloopers, and hosted the U.S. (Philadelphia) segment of Live Aid. He had nothing do with Mork and Mindy except to be the butt of a funny Robin Williams line in one episode, when Williams-as-Mork explained that the aging process on Ork went in reverse, “kind of like Dick Clark.”

6. b, The Dark Knight Rises. Looking over the list of summer blockbusters in this particular context does make one realize how insanely violent the entertainment culture is.

7. The mascots of the London Olympics, named Wenlock and Mandeville. Combining these questionable characters and the confusing official logo, this was the worst-symboled Olympics perhaps of all time.

8. d, limiting media appearances. It’s awfully fun today to read a stupid, gloating quote like this one, from Romney aide Lenny Alcivar:

“When this election is over, one of the lessons that will be learned by the mainstream media is that they no longer have a toe-hold on how Americans receive their news. Never before—in a way that has taken Democrats off stride—have we seen the confluence of an aggressive online community, led by Breitbart, and an aggressive campaign team not willing to cede an inch of ground to Democrats. This combination has created a new political reality. We no longer allow the mainstream media to define the political realities in America. The rise of Breitbart, Drudge and others, combined with an aggressive Romney campaign is a powerful tool in the arsenal of the conservative movement … The governor will no longer allow the mainstream media to dictate the terms of this debate. This is just the beginning … We are witnessing the rise of the center-right media.”

9. a, Hilary Mantel, for Bring Up the Bodies. Certainly gettable.

10. b, the new normal. I figured I’d fool you with the more catastrophic choices.

11. d, the Fox decision maker. Godspeed to him, too! Incidentally, Romney’s pollster was Neil Newhouse. The unskewed-polls guy was Dean Chambers. The Ohio thing I just made up, although no doubt some such human being existed.

12. a, a Bushmaster rifle. No comment necessary.

Well, a little bit of a downer, this quiz, but like most years it was a pretty bad year, except of course for Romney’s drubbing. Next column: predictions for 2013.