Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Reviewing the Best and the Worst of Politics in 2007

By Stuart Rothenberg

It’s the end of the year, and, presumably many of us are tired of all the supposedly insightful political hot air that we’ve been mindlessly blowing over the past 12 months. That means it’s time for an end-of-the-year column featuring my take on the best and worst, my most favorite and least favorite, winners and losers of 2007.

This year’s version resembles the Golden Globes, with a bevy of worthwhile nominees in each “category” and, usually, an ultimate winner who stands above the crowd. Congratulations to each and every one of the nominees. I know how proud you must be just to have made the list.

The Worst Political Idea of 2007
• Bill Clinton asserting that he opposed the Iraq War from the start
• Tom Tancredo for president
• The House’s Armenian Genocide Resolution
• Allowing Alan Keyes into the December Des Moines Register/Iowa Public TV debate
• Eliot Spitzer’s proposal of driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants

The winner: Lots of bad ideas here, but the winner clearly is Alan Keyes participating in the Register debate on Iowa Public TV. We all know that Keyes runs for president for two reasons: It’s his job, and he likes to hear himself talk. Neither of those is sufficient reason to include him in a debate. Plus he entered the race about 15 minutes ago.

My Favorite Partisan Blog
Nominees: None.
The winner: None.

Biggest Electoral Embarrassment of 2007
• Ernie Fletcher (R-Ky.)
• Robin Weirauch (D-Ohio)
• Vladimir Putin (UR-Russia)
• Bart Peterson (D-Ind.)
• Jeannemarie Devolites Davis (R-Va.)

The winner: Peterson’s defeat for re- election as mayor of Indianapolis was the stunner of the year, but Fletcher’s was the most embarrassing. Fletcher.

Biggest Electoral Win of 2007
• Steve Beshear (D-Ky.), elected governor
• Bobby Jindal (R-La.), elected governor
• Bob Latta (R-Ohio), elected to Congress
• Cal Ripken (Orioles), elected to Hall of Fame
• Haley Barbour (R-Miss.), re-elected governor

Not a lot to choose from in an off year. The winner? It’s obviously between Ripken and Jindal. Sorry, can’t pick one over the other.

Most Distinctive Voice in Congress
• Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.)
• The late Sen. Everett Dirksen (R-Ill.)
• Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.)
• Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)
• Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho)

The winner: If Dirksen were still alive, he’d win hands down. But the choice is clear: Rangel, Rangel, Rangel.

Dead Celebrity I’d Like to Campaign For Me if I Ever Ran for President
• Winston Churchill
• Seabiscuit
• Roger Maris
• Mel Torme

The winner: A very tough choice, but voters can’t resist animals. Seabiscuit.

Most Surprising Retirement Announcement of 2007
• Rep. Chip Pickering (R-Miss.)
• Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.)
• Stuart Rothenberg (Roll Call)
• Rep. Mike Ferguson (R-N.J.)
• Tiki Barber (N.Y. Giants)

The winner: Lott.

Fantasy Baseball Surprise of 2007
• Troy Tulowitzki (SS, Rockies)
• Jorge Posada (C, Yankees)
• Brandon Phillips (2B, Reds)
• Jeremy Accardo (RP, Blue Jays)
• Ryan Braun (3B, Brewers)

The winner: A 35-year-old catcher (with a lifetime .277 average) who hits .338, has an on-base percentage of .426, scores 90 runs and knocks in 91? C’mon. Posada.

Strangest Presidential Campaign Moment During 2007
• Dennis Kucinich singing “Sixteen Tons” to the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition
• John Edwards’ “withdrawal” non- announcement (thanks to another publication)
• Pat Robertson’s endorsement of Rudy Giuliani
• Mike Gravel at any Democratic debate
• Mike Huckabee’s surge

The winner: “Sixteen tons and what do you get? ...” Tennessee Ernie Kucinich.

Greatest Indecision by a Candidate/Non-Candidate
• Rep. Tom Udall (D-N.M.)
• Elwyn Tinklenberg (D-Minn.)
• Steve Stivers (R-Ohio)
• Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.)
• Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.)

The winner: Almost an impossible choice here. Some couldn’t make a decision at all. Some kept changing their minds. How do these folks ever buy furniture? But the award has to go to Tinklenberg, who for the second cycle in a row reversed himself. This time, he has reversed himself twice, and the year isn’t over yet.

Person Most Likely to be Elected President of the United States in 2008
• Barry Bonds
• Britney Spears
• Ron Paul
• Nicolas Sarkozy
Nathan Gonzales

Winner: They all have the same chance.

This column first appeared in Roll Call on December 20, 2007. Copyright 2007 © Roll Call Inc. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.