The one phrase that best encapsulates the theme of 2020

Dec 11, 2020, 3:40 PM
wearing mask...
Roughly 73% of Americans report wearing a mask every time they leave their house, which is up 21 percentage points since May. (AP Illustration/Peter Hamlin)
(AP Illustration/Peter Hamlin)

SALT LAKE CITY — Delivered on May 21, a plea from Dr. Anthony Fauci for people to “wear a mask” to slow the spread of the coronavirus sits atop Yale Law School’s list of the most notable quotes of 2020, according to USA TODAY.

Lee Lonsberry, host of Live Mic, has also compiled his own list of phrases and quotes that he believes encapsulated the Year of the Pandemic. (Check out his suggestions at the bottom.)

Themes for 2020

  • Next on the Yale list, “I can’t breathe,” the last words of George Floyd as he died under the knee of a Minneapolis cop May 21.
  • Third, “One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear,” President Donald Trump said on Feb. 27., referring to the coronavirus during an African American History Month reception at the White House.

Lee noted that the Yale list was tending in a certain political direction with this quote at No. 4.

  • “I see the disinfectant that knocks it out in a minute, one minute. And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside or almost a cleaning?” said Mr. Trump at a White House Coronavirus Task Force news briefing on April 23.

“He said he was joking,” Lee said. “Was he? I don’t know. We can debate that forever, likely.”

  • Coming in at No. 5, “I will never lie to you. You have my word on that,” said White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany during her first press briefing on May 1.
  • No. 6: “My most fervent wish is that I not be replaced until a new president is installed,” Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dying words as quoted by her granddaughter, Clara Spera, in September.
  • No. 7. “If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t Black,” said former Vice President Joe Biden during an interview with “The Breakfast Club” radio program on May 22.
  • No. 8: “The science should not stand in the way of [school reopenings],” — McEnany said during a news briefing on July 16.
  • No. 9: “You’re a lying dogfaced pony soldier,” Biden told a student during a campaign stop Feb. 9 in Hampton, N.H. Biden explained the origin of that odd phrase at a rally in North Dakota in 2018, explaining that his brother loved to quotes lines from movies:

           “There’s a line in a movie, a John Wayne movie, where the Indian chief turns to John Wayne and says, this is a lying dog-faced pony soldier,” Biden said.

  •  And finally, “We are all Lakers today,” said Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers speaking to reporters Jan. 26 after the death of Kobe Bryant in Orlando, Fla.

Notable & Quotable

So, what is the phrase that best describes Year 2020, unlike any in recent memory for its sheer disruptiveness? Here are a handful of contenders floating in and out of our collective consciousness during the year:

  • Defund the police
  • Flatten the curve
  • Stink, Stank, Stunk
  • Defund 2020
  • Healthcare workers saying: “We’re really tired”
  • “We’re in this together” — already appearing in advertisements
  • Utah Gov. Gary Herbert saying: “Individual responsibility” not mandates.

Lonsberry’s gist list

Lee offered up some of his own:

  • Sorry, we’re out of toilet paper 
  • You’re muted again
  • The new normal
  • Phone, keys, wallet, mask
  • I hope this email finds you well
  • Distance learning
  • Contactless delivery
  • Flatten the curve
  • Work from home, and
  • We’re in this together

Live Mic with Lee Lonsberry can be heard weekdays from 12:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app. 

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The one phrase that best encapsulates the theme of 2020