For five years running, I have taken advantage of the Thanksgiving Holiday to give out my awards for Turkey of the Year and Golden Drumsticks. The latter are for those who exemplify the best traits in our public sphere. The former are for those who exemplify silliness and stupidity. I rarely give them out to someone who is evil; they are reserved for those who regularly makes me shake my head and wonder what they’re thinking. It’s a sort of “thank you” for making blogging easier.
We’ll start with the Turkeys of the Year. For reference, the past winners are:
2007: Alberto Gonzalez, Nancy Pelosi, Hugo Chavez
2008: Sarah Palin, Sarah Palin’s critics, Hillary Clinton, Congress, Joe Biden
2009: MIke Steele, Glen Beck, the State Department, Sarah Palin, Andrew Sullivan.
2010: Janet Napolitano and TSA, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, MSNBC, Lower Merion Schools, California Voters.
2011: Nancy Pelosi, Republican Presidential Field, Occupy Wall Street, Anthony Weiner, the Eurozone. Note my prediction: “I suspect Santorum will be the next flavor of the month. This will last until people remember that he’s Rick Santorum.”
For this year, I’m going with:
The Culture Warriors: Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock lost imminently winnable seats because of dumb things they said about rape. At the precise time the GOP was pulling away from the “War on Women” baloney, they made half the nation facepalm. There were others, notably unopposed Paul Broun, whose comments about creationism so angered the voters that some wrote in votes for “burning bag of dogshit”. Suburban Republicans shifted on gay marriage, likely costing the GOP votes. Mitt Romney may have lost the election; but he outpolled the GOP in many regions because of turkeys like Akin and Mourdock poisoning the brand.
Unions: They poured immense resources into Wisconsin and, even with the media and the President on their side, the year will end with the Republicans in control of both the legislature and the governor’s office. Their effort to hijack the Michigan constitution failed. Their strike in Chicago, intended to rally people to their cause, instead enraged the American electorate. The Hostess situation may yet be resolved. But even Democrats are reading the writing on the wall with future pension obligations. This may be the year the country realized how bad the situation has gotten. And every windy pronouncement from the like of Richard Trumka gets progressively less threatening and more humorous.
The Poll Unskewers: Nothing represented the denial of reality in certain circles more than the poll unskewing. Obama took a big lead in the polls after the conventions, Romney closed the gap during the debates and then Obama pulled away in the last two weeks. But there were certain factions of the commentariat that refused to accept this; that insisted that Romney was winning the whole time.
The ringleader, when he wasn’t hurling gay slurs at Nate Silver, was predicting a Romney landslide. Bloggers routinely quoted whatever outlier favored Romney while ignoring every other poll (and many liberals quoted whatever poll was best for Obama). Peggy Noonan said Romney would win because she felt it in the force. This opened with the quote: “nobody knows anything”. But people did know things. Nate Silver wasn’t the only one who could read the polls. Even RCP predicted an Obama win.
This reached an apotheosis with 18 of the most extraordinary minutes of television I’ve ever seen when first Megyn Kelly, then the Fox analysis team and eventually Michael Barone staged an intervention for Karl Rove as he kept insisting that Ohio couldn’t be called. This was especially strange because, as this drama was unfolding, Nevada and Colorado were called meaning Obama could win without Ohio, Virginia or Florida.
Debbie Wasserman-Schultz: Ms. Verbal Diarrhea, as I’ve come to call her, can always be relied on to say something dumb, ignorant, false or all three. From feigning ignorance about Obama’s kill list to falling off the balance beam on the Wisconsin recall to getting eviscerated by Anderson Cooper. Not a week goes by without her being a source of entertainment.
Oh shit, she’s an actual elected official? She’s the chair of the DNC? Damn. How’d they win again?
MSNBC: Even Pew noticed how ridiculously biased they are. SNL burned them well after the first debate but nothing was as hilarious as the reality of the first debate aftermath, when the MSNBC staff looked they might go Jonestown on us.
Dishonorable Mention: David Petraeus, John McCain, Nancy Pelosi, the Miami Marlins, Lance Armstrong, Donald Trump, Barack Obama, Brian Ross (for IDing the wrong guy in Aurora), Sandra Fluke, Rush Limbaugh, Facebook’s IPO, Obamacare, Joe Biden, Francois Hollande, Eric Holder.
Now the Golden Drumsticks, awarded to those who best exemplified what is right with this country. Here are the past awards, the first round from WVR.
2007: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ron Paul, Barack Obama, David Petraeus, Juan Carlos, Burma’s monks
2008: US Military, Jeff Flake, Ron Paul, Republican Governors, Barack Obama
2009: The American Fighting Man, Kimberly Munley and Mark Todd, George W. Bush
2010: The Tea Party, Chris Christie, Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, the Next Wave of Republicans, David Cameron and Nick Clegg, The American Soldiers
2011: Seal Team Six, Mark Kelly, The Arab Spring (ugh), the Technicians at Fukushima
Down Ballots: Marijuana won in Massachusetts, Washington and Colorado and came close in Arkansas. Gay marriage won in Minnesota, Maine, Washington and Maryland. Unions were turned away in Michigan. Eminent domain reform triumphed in Virginia. Former drumstick winner Jeff Flake won in Arizona. And Republicans kept the House. If you ignored the White House race — and really, who among us didn’t want to — it was not a bad year for a conservative-libertarian.
The Sandy Responders: Hurricane Sandy was a Katrina-level event but we have not seen the chaos and destruction we saw then. The response seems to be lagging only when you fail to consider the incredible scale of the disaster. Let me put it this way: the response to Sandy has been so good I pulled Mike “16 Oz” Bloomberg off the list of turkeys.
The real heroes, of course, have been the people of New York and New Jersey who have pulled together, looked out for each other behaved admirably.
Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods: The CIA read the Benghazi situation badly, failing to call for military help. But Woods and Doherty read the situation correctly, ignored the stand down order and eventually lost their lives in the sudden second attack on the CIA annex. Whatever you think of the Benghazi situation, I don’t think anyone can question the bravery of these two men.
Mathew Inman (aka the Oatmeal): Ordinarily, I’d be content with him being the best web comic out there (XKCD being a close second). But when he responded to douchebag censorious threats by raising $200,000 for charity, he showed how people should respond to legal thuggery and generalized jackassery.
Honorable Mention: the American military, Ron and Rand Paul, Chris Christie, Scott Walker, Gary Johnson, the new wave of Republican governors and conservative writers, Paul Ryan, the US Olympic team.