Gail Collins: The back-to-school civics quiz

President Donald Trump speaks with reporters before boarding Air Force One at Morristown Municipal Airport in Morristown, N.J., Sunday, Aug. 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

This is always a time of year for new starts, right? People coming home from vacation, starting new jobs, going off to school. Congress slinking back to Washington. And of course, we are expecting a clean new slate with totally different results on every front.

While you’re girding for battle, let’s see how much you remember about how we spent our summer:

1. On Independence Day, Donald Trump reminded the nation of how the Continental Army suffered through winter at Valley Forge, then rallied and ...

A. “Took over the airports.”

B. “Won the glorious Battle of the Bulge.”

C. “Arrested all the phony media.”

2. In an interview with George Stephanopoulos of ABC News, Trump compared himself to one of his predecessors, saying ...

A. “Abraham Lincoln was treated supposedly very badly. But nobody’s been treated badly like me.”

B. “My goal for a second term is to have historians start ranking me higher than James Buchanan.”

C. “Many people say I remind them of George Washington, but I have much better teeth.”

3. Nobel Peace Prize recipient and human rights activist Nadia Murad visited the White House. When Murad told the president that the Islamic State had murdered her mother and six brothers, Trump replied ...

A. “That’s terrible!”

B. “Where are they now?”

C. “Have I mentioned that I beat Hillary Clinton in Wisconsin?”

4. We learned a lot this summer about Jeffrey Epstein. Trump once remarked Epstein was a “terrific guy” who “likes beautiful women as much as I do” ...

A. “Particularly the ones with Ph.D.s.”

B. “Although any woman is beautiful if she has good character.”

C. “And many of them are on the younger side.”

5. Speaking to relatives of the first responders who became gravely ill after their work at the site of the World Trade Center destruction on Sept. 11, Trump said ...

A. “And I was down there also.”

B. “I was so impressed with the work I saw you doing through the telescope at my luxury tower uptown.”

C. “Did I mention that telescope was solid gold?”

6. At a recent meeting of major world leaders in France, Trump was asked if he had any second thoughts on his trade policy. The president replied ...

A. “There’s a trade policy?”

B. “I have second thoughts about everything.”

C. “If Indonesia doesn’t get its act together, I am so recommending a nutmeg tariff.”

7. When Democrats gathered for their first big debate in Miami, calls for ethics reform filled the air. The Democratic National Committee celebrated the campaign kickoff with ...

A. Special buttons that said, “Lobbyists are for losers.”

B. A news conference urging candidates not to accept donations of more than $1,000.

C. A fundraising lunch for big donors at the home of the founder of Lumber Liquidators.

8. When Joe Biden attacked Cory Booker’s record as mayor of Newark, New Jersey, Booker replied: “Mr. Vice President, there’s a saying in my community ...

A. “You are dipping into the Kool-Aid, and you don’t even know the flavor.”

B. “You’re sautéing the truffles, and you don’t even have the butter.”

C. “You’re opening the cabernet, and you don’t even know the vintage.”

9. During a debate exchange, Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio told the ever-verbal Bernie Sanders, “You don’t have to yell.” Later, Ryan ...

A. Took Sanders out for a drink to make amends.

B. Issued an apology for “being impertinent to a senior citizen.”

C. Began selling “You Don’t Have to Yell” bumper stickers on his campaign website.

10. Bill de Blasio apologized after a rally in Miami where he ...

A. Complained about the quality of Florida gyms.

B. Tried to inspire the crowd with a quote he didn’t know was from Che Guevara.

C. Was able to remember the names of only three New York boroughs.

11. During the fracas between the president and the four female House members known as the squad, Sen. Lindsey Graham ...

A. Suggested that everybody get together for a drink in the Oval Office, and “I’ll bring the snacks.”

B. Called the women “a bunch of communists.”

C. Said he had no problem with Trump’s suggestion that they go back where they came from, “because really, what do I know? I’m just a minion.”

12. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell won’t allow the Senate to vote on any election reform bills aimed at preventing a repeat of the Russian interference in 2016. His critics call him ...

A. Moscow Mitch.

B. Yertle the Turtle.

C. Putin’s Poodle.


1-A; 2-A; 3-B; 4-C; 5-A; 6-B; 7-C; 8-A; 9-C; 10-B; 11-B; 12-A

Gail Collins | The New York Times (CREDIT: Earl Wilson/The New York Times)

Gail Collins is an Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times.

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