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Every year since college, my best friend Dan and I have submitted our best observations on a wide range of topics that reflect on the year that has just expired. We follow the well established template of The McLaughlin Group program.
Here are my reflections on 2013:
BIGGEST WINNER OF THE YEAR: I can't even think of one, as 2013 has seen so many failures that have hurt so many Americans. The only one I can think of is David Ortiz of the Red Sox, who emphatically reclaimed the City of Boston for Bostonians.
BIGGEST LOSER OF THE YEAR: President Barack Obama. He may or may not earn the mid-term wipeout he so desperately deserves in the House and Senate in 2014, but make no mistake, every single thing he touched in 2013 ended up as a massive failure. From Obamacare to the IRS, to the NSA, to the security failure that led to the Boston Marathon Bombings, and back to Obamacare, nothing went right for the President's agenda.
BEST POLITICIAN OF THE YEAR: Tie: Rand Paul and Ted Cruz. Reminding Republicans what it's like to have a backbone and use it, and to win hearts and minds.
WORST POLITICIAN OF THE YEAR: Harry Reid, who tried to shut down Mt. Rushmore in his government shutdown.
MOST DEFINING MOMENT: HealthCare.gov failing live on CNN as Kathleen Sibelius was testifying before Congress.
BEST SPIN OF THE YEAR: Scott Walker's interview with Heritage. When he said that Republicans don't have to lurch to the left to win elections, that all it takes is showing leadership on the issues without compromising your principles, I stood up and cheered. That's the kind of straight talk we need to win elections in 2014 and beyond.
MOST BORING PERSON OR STORY OF THE YEAR: Wendy Davis. Enough has been said about her already, but we'll see if a failed filibuster can launch a successful bid for governor. Good luck with that.
MOST CHARISMATIC PERSON OF THE YEAR: Ted Cruz, who was rewarded for a year of showing actual leadership by being recognized in a survey as the third most influential world leader, behind Pope Francis and Barack Obama.
BUMMEST RAP OF THE YEAR: Mainstream Republicans claiming that "shadowy conservative groups" like Club For Growth, FreedomWorks, Senate Conservatives Fund and Heritage Action are cynically fundraising on failures by the likes of McCain and McConnell to stand up on their conservative principles. Why have a separate party, if all those guys can do is say, "Welp, I guess elections have consequences."
FAIREST RAP OF THE YEAR: That The Selfie Seen Around The World demeans the office of President and diminishes our level of global respect.
BEST COMEBACK OF THE YEAR: Twinkies. After Hostess filed bankruptcy and got out from under the crushing union contracts, they were liquidated in an orderly court filing and the free market took it from there. Now, on to Detroit ...
MOST ORIGINAL THINKER OF THE YEAR: Mike Lee. He is the often overlooked third member of the Tea Party Trio in the Senate (along with Cruz and Paul), but he is proposing real solutions to our nation's problems, and is one to watch in the Senate.
MOST STAGNANT THINKER OF THE YEAR: John McCain. Raking Cruz over the coals for showing leadership and backbone, and standing up against Obamacare? Saying it's the law of the land and elections have consequences? What happened to you, sir?
BEST PHOTO OP OF THE YEAR: The WWII veterans who stormed their open air monument on the National Mall after government thugs tried to blockade it as part of the government "shutdown". Some of the best signs from the protest: "Mr. Obama, Tear Down This Wall"; and, "Normandy Wasn't Open For Business When We Got There, Either."
ENOUGH, ALREADY: MSNBC. From tampon earrings to black Santa Claus, to Alec Baldwin lasting a few weeks, to every single utterance from anyone to the right of Che Guevara being labeled racist, you've given jumping the shark a whole new dimension.
WORST LIE OF THE YEAR: Everything about Obamacare. Seriously, we have every right to tell voters, "We told you so". A close second: The oft-repeated lie, even among some Republicans, that there is no conservative alternative to Obamacare. There are many, many free market reforms that actually make sense and would actually reduce costs.
CAPITALIST OF THE YEAR: The entire energy sector. New mining technologies and new deposit discoveries are leading to the real prospect that, in just a few years, the US could actually be energy independent.
PERSON OF THE YEAR: Rand Paul. His was the first filibuster that started a trend. Using the rules of the Senate to protect the rights of the minority - apparently this was so dangerous that the Democrats had to go and change the rules.
HONORABLE MENTION: Vladimir Putin. Not a positive development by any stretch, but he's seen the international leadership void created by the Obama Administration's appeasement policies and taken the opportunity to fill that void.
DESTINED FOR POLITICAL STARDOM: (A quick aside - last year I predicted Paul Ryan. Whoops.) Scott Walker, Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul - collectively they can be refered to as the Liberty Caucus. The future of the Conservative Movement is bright.
DESTINED FOR POLITICAL OBLIVION: Kathleen Sibelius. Amazingly, she has yet to be formally turfed, but the writing is on the wall.
BEST POLITICAL THEATRE OF THE YEAR: The performances by Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, using their position to the best of their ability to stand up for all Americans and make DC pay attention.
WORST POLITICAL THEATRE OF THE YEAR: The Cover Oregon TV ads. Yeesh.
MOST UNDERREPORTED STORY: The scandals surrounding the IRS and the NSA. Using unelected bureacrats to attack political adversaries is the realm of third world dictatorships, not the USA.
MOST OVERREPORTED STORY: GRIDLOCK IN CONGRESS! Pssst ... hey everyone ... that's the way it's supposed to work, so we don't have 2700 page bills rammed down our throats by representatives who didn't read the bill.
BIGGEST GOVERNMENT WASTE: Obamacare is the obvious choice, but that has distracted us from the more fundamental problem - since Obama took office in 2009, our spending has remained out of control across the board, and it doesn't show any signs of slowing down. It's sad that it's reason to celebrate when our budget deficit was ONLY $680 Billion for the year.
BEST GOVERNMENT DOLLAR SPENT: Until we get our spending under control, this award is impossible to contemplate.
BOLDEST POLITICAL TACTIC OF THE YEAR: Every single person who stood up to oppose Obamacare. Those who press the advantage and do everything they can to try to stop this rolling disaster are those who won hearts and minds this year. The rollout of the bill was a disaster, and it has never been more unpopular among the voters. Keep up the opposition, it's working.
BEST IDEA OF 2013: The continued development of fossil fuel extraction technology.
WORST IDEA OF 2013: Trying to drum up support to invade Syria, despite there being no national interest there.
SORRY TO SEE YOU GO: Peter O'Toole, who gave the single greatest performance in film history in Lawrence of Arabia.
THE ANNUAL KIM JONG IL MEMORIAL NOT EVEN A LITTLE BIT SORRY TO SEE YOU GO AWARD: Hugo Chavez
TURNCOAT OF THE YEAR: Sadly, this award is taken out of the mothballs I'd hoped it would stay stored in forever (The John Roberts Award). Paul Ryan, you are no budget hawk.
MOST HONEST PERSON OF THE YEAR: "Losers assemble in little groups that complain about the coaches and the players in other little groups. But winners assemble as a team." - Bill Parcells, apparently not speaking about Republican politics, but rather speaking upon the occasion of his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
MOST OVERRATED PERSON, EVENT, OR STORY OF 2013: Harry Reid and the change to the filibuster rules. The Democrats are going to be sorry they did that when Republicans take over the Senate and can repeal Obamacare with 51 votes instead of 60.
MOST UNDERRATED PERSON, EVENT, OR STORY OF 2013: The continued shredding of our constitutional protections of liberty.
GRADE THE PLANET: A+, if its inhabitants wouldn't continually try to muck things up. If we could get politicians out of the way, we could be energy independent, have a balanced budget, and live in liberty. Is that really too much to ask?
MACROPREDICTION: The final two years of the Obama Administration, after Election Day 2014, will be no day at the beach for big government statist control freaks.
NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION: To stop obsessing about politics, and to obsess a little more about my family.