Quotes of the Year: 2019

Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Dallas, makes his seemingly annual appearance on this list.
Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Dallas, makes his seemingly annual appearance on this list. Gage Skidmore
The Observer spends a lot of time — perhaps too much time, according to some of you in the peanut gallery — trying to read between the lines. The words that politicians, preachers and Dallas Cowboys owners say often aren't as important as the subtext.

Sometimes, though, when the sun is out and we've been living right, the people making the news in North Texas and around the state just cross over the line into genuine candor. With the end of the year fast approaching, let's honor the best, worst and most notable quotes of 2019.

"I wasn't ever going to say this in front of my family or anyone. I don't even want you to go to jail. I want the best for you because that's exactly what Botham would do." — Brandt Jean, speaking to his brother Botham Jean's killer, Amber Guyger, after a Dallas County jury convicted her on murder charges.

"Zeke who?" — Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, providing a little levity during the will-they-won't-they saga of the sports summer.

"I just wanted to see if we can try and figure that out, and I mean this in a polite way. If you need some primaries to fight in, I will leave and Dustin will tell you some that we would love it if you fought in them — not that you need our permission — but what I would love to be able to do, candidly, is kind of have — I don't want to say an agreement — but kind of an understanding, look, you want to go pop some guys, if you're asking us — which you don't have to — let me put it this way: Am I going to always make you happy? No. Am I perfect? No way." — Speaker of the Texas House Dennis Bonnen, offering conservative gadfly Michael Quinn Sullivan the deal that would end Bonnen's career in Austin.

“These ‘Never Trump’ evangelicals are morons. They are absolutely spineless morons, and they cannot admit that they were wrong.” — First Baptist Dallas Pastor Robert Jeffress, defending Dear Leader.

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Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson, a subject of, but not a speaker of, the Observer's quotes of the year.
Brian Maschino
"'This is the guy. This is the guy. This is the one we've been waiting for.'" — Former U.S. Ambassador Jeanne Phillips, relating a conversation she had with oil magnate Ray Hunt about soon-to-be Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson

"There are males that are permanently burdened with child-sized organs and lack of sensation." — Dallas Eagle Forum President Cindi Castilla, calling on Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to call a special session of the legislature in order to save gender-questioning kids.

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U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert begins to ripen during his questioning of former special counsel Robert Mueller earlier this year.
Win McNamee / Getty
"They want it to be a one-sided, non-due process sham court. It's about to push this country to a civil war if they were to get their wishes, and if there was one thing I don't want to see in my lifetime, I don't want to ever have participation in, it's a civil war. Some historian — I don't remember who — said, 'Guns are only involved in the last phase of a civil war.' What's gone on here is not protecting the Constitution. It's not protecting the institutions, it's not protecting this little experiment in self-government, no. What it has done is put it all at risk." — East Texas U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert on the threat of impeachment.

“If we can’t get justice, there won’t be a damn Texas-OU game, there won’t be a State Fair, anything going on, because [we’re going to] shut it down.” — Dallas activist Dominique Alexander, who actually had no plans to do anything about the Texas-OU game.

"A lot of us were blindsided ... Even though, especially since moving over to the business news desk, I've looked at the business side a little bit more. Obviously, our numbers, our quarterly reports, have been terrible all year long. We knew that we had far fewer jobs going forward but we'd already lost a ton of people." — Former Dallas Morning News reporter Jeff Mosier, after the paper laid off 43 journalists in January.

"You know, 'You're just a dumb (N-word) and I hate you.' That alone, that's protected speech." — (Former) University of North Texas general counsel Caitlin Sewell, badly botching a First Amendment education exercise during a campus panel discussion.

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Mina Chang answers questions about her totally real Time magazine cover in 2017.
Mina Chang videos via YouTube
"It is essential that my resignation be seen as a protest and not as surrender because I will not surrender my commitment to serve, my fidelity to the truth, or my love of country." — Dallas' Mina Chang, resigning her position at the State Department after NBC News discovered she lied, a lot, on her résumé.

“Sometimes I sit back and think ‘Damn, I was almost gone' ... But I think that more positive has come out of it than anything — larger platform, more responsibility, more leadership, more of a voice. The positive definitely outweighs the bad.” — Mark Hughes, the man wrongly identified as a person of interest during the aftermath of Dallas' July 7, 2016, police shooting.

"Unless you and I want liberals to succeed in their plan to transform Texas — and our entire country — through illegal immigration, this is a message we MUST send." — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, in a mailer to supporters sent out one day before Patrick Crusius allegedly murdered 22 people in an El Paso Walmart.

"Um, El Paso is land-locked." — Sen. Ted Cruz, trying, and failing miserably, to make fun of El Paso native Beto O'Rourke for saying global warming could, eventually, make it impossible to live in the border city.

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, the reigning hegemon of the Texas Senate
Gage Skidmore
"This was maybe a video game to this evil demon. A video game to him. He has no sense of humanity, no sense of life. He wanted to be a super soldier, for his Call of Duty game. ... As long as we continue to only praise God and look at God on a Sunday morning and kick him out of the town square at our schools the other six days of the week, what do we expect?" — Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, on what drove Crusius to kill.

"Get some nonprofits that you could support and tell them to channel the money through those nonprofits ... I — and — and you know, can nobody touch you. The money ain't in your name. You can't put that money in your name and then expect not to get caught. I have turned people on to nonprofits all day long." — Former Dallas City Council member Carolyn Davis, according to federal court documents, telling a candidate for council how to take illegal contributions.

“What I do is I get mad and I scream in my pillow. That low, low eerie thing you’re hearing going across Dallas is me screaming in my pillow.” — Jones, one more time, trying to explain his frustration with the 6-7 Cowboys. 
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Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young