For ten 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 make 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.
2012: The Culture Warriors, Unions, The Poll Unskewers, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, MSNBC
2013: Healthcare.gov, the Platinum Coin, the Shutdown Caucus, the National Park Service, Fiscal Cliff Panic Mongers.
2014: Jonathan Gruber, Lamenting Democrats, Barack Obama, Jim Ardis, Paul Krugman
2015: The Presidential Field, College Students, The Election Media, Rolling Stone, Barack Obama
2016: Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Clinton Supporters, the Clown Panic
Donald Trump: Well, who else could it be? I was anti-Trump during the election but was willing to give him … well, a small chance. So far, his Presidency hasn’t been a complete disaster but it has been a gigantic wasted opportunity. Obamacare reform is dead and I wouldn’t be surprised to see tax reform follow. He did get Gorsuch appointed and … well, that’s about it. In the meantime, he’s been a goldmine for mockery, with his constant rage-tweeting, ignorance of public affairs and ability to mishandle even the easiest situations. World War III is brewing in the Middle East and this President thinks the most important thing for the country is that basketball players’ families show sufficient gratitude.
This will probably not be his last selection.
“The Resistance”: On the one hand, I’m glad there’s been opposition to Trump. And, to be fair, the opposition has accomplished some things, forcing changes to the travel ban and stalling much of Trump’s agenda (such as it is). On the other hand, most of the success of the anti-Trump movement has come from traditional sources — lawsuits, legislative opposition and political fighting. The mass protests have accomplished very little. The late-night talk show hosts, while providing lots of affirmation to the Left, have, if anything, rallied support behind Trump. Finally, the Resistance has developed an amazing tendency to follow the media into rabbit holes, creating a furor over the Trump Outrage of the Week, indulging in Russia conspiracy theories and mindlessly opposing Trump even when he’s doing the right thing. And they have yet to coalesce around any kind of coherent agenda under than “we hate Trump”.
Anti-Anti-Trumpers: At least half of Trump’s support is based on antipathy toward his opponents. And this mindless opposition has manifested in some truly bizarre ways. There have been pointless protests and outrage over Shakespeare in the Park, the NFL Hamilton, Keurig, Pepsi, Oreos, Netflix and a bunch of other random companies. Earlier this year, Rush Limbaugh said he was no longer really a conservative but an anti-liberal. If that doesn’t encapsulate the corruption of the GOP, nothing does.
Congressional Republicans: I had hoped that with an ineffective President, power would move back to Congress, who would take the lead on policy. I have a post on why this hasn’t happened but … it hasn’t. And while Trump’s lack of leadership and policy knowledge is partially to blame for the failure of the GOP agenda, the bulk of it lies squarely on the GOP leadership. They have developed an astonishing talent for trying to cram through half-baked policy initiatives that stall the second anyone figures out what’s in them.
David Mueller: When Taylor Swift accused Mueller of grabbing her ass during a photo-op, he sued. He promptly got his … uh … ass handed to him. We didn’t realize it at the time, but this was the first stone in what has become an avalanche of sexual harassment and abuse allegations against famous people who thought their fame immunized them from justice.
Dishonorable Mention: Harvey Weinstein, Al Franken, Roy Moore, college protesters, Congressional Democrats, Linda Sarsour, Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn, Steve Bannon, Steven Mnuchin, Steve Miller. Basically anyone named Steve.
Now the Golden Drumsticks, awarded to those who best exemplified what is right with the world. Here are the past awards, the first round from West Virginia Rebel.
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, the Technicians at Fukushima
2012: Down Ballots, The Sandy Responders, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, Mathew Inman
2013: Francis I, Edward Snowden, Rand Paul, The American Military, The Institute for Justice
2014: Ebola Responders, Francis I, Rand Paul, David Brat, The Supreme Court
2015: New Horizons and Dawn, Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos, Anthony Sadler, Amnesty International, Video and Body Cameras, The Non-Crazy Presidential Candidates.
2016: Dallas Police Chief David Brown and Dr. Brian H. Williams, Disillusioned Democrats, Kellyanne Conway, Nate Silver.
Women Speaking Out: Harvey Weinstein was one of Hollywood’s most powerful players. He was also a viciously abusive sexual predator who had ex-Mossad agents on pay to dig up dirt on anyone who accused him. He has now fled to Europe and is getting “sex addiction” treatment. He is just one of many men — Charlie Rose, Al Franken, Roy Moore, John Conyers — who are being exposed for everything from “busy hands” to rape. I don’t like to read too much into a moment but it does seem like we might be seeing a sea change in the ability of the powerful to abuse women with impunity. And this is happening because of women stepping forward. Rose McGowan, in particular, deserves recognition for calling Weinstein out in the face of a relentless counter-assault on her character and sanity.
Ronan Farrow: The mainstream media and big name TV personalities are a mess. But in the trenches, there are reporters doing some dynamite work. Ronan Farrow defied his superiors at NBC and one of the most powerful men in Hollywood to break a stunning expose of Harvey Weinstein, complete with unbelievable but documented revelations about Weinstein’s aggressive efforts to smear his accusers. Farrow’s reporting wasn’t just great in its own right, it has touched off the explosion of revelations about creepy men abusing their power to get sexual access to women. No one wanted him to run this story. He did. And we’re all better for it.
Jake Tapper: One of the few MSM reporters who is fierce but fair. I follow him on Twitter and it’s amusing to see his comments alternatively fill up with people accusing him of being a Trump dog-washer and people accusing him of being an anti-Trump loon. In an era where trust in the media is low, it’s important to remember which ones are doing their job and doing it well.
The Competent Trump People: Trump’s administration has been a mess but there are people within it who are trying desperately to make it work. They’ve been pilloried as though they were Nazi collaborators or something but they truly deserve applause. McMaster, Mattis, Kelly, Tillerson, Haley. Hell, even Jeff Sessions has tried to steer Trump away from violating the law. All are under constant threat of being fired and flamed by Trump’s supporters. That our country continues to function at all is a testament to their efforts.
Houston: Hit by one of the worst natural disasters in our nation’s history, Houston responded in amazing fashion. Volunteers lined up for blocks to help. The Cajun Navy and numerous civilians pitched in as soon as the could, literally saving lives by the thousand. Charity flowed, people helped and the city is on its way to recovery.
(Note: I debated adding Puerto Rico to this one but the news out of Puerto Rico is not clear enough for me to understand what’s going on. The people of Puerto Rico appear to be responding well. The government of Puerto Rico, however …)
Honorable Mention: Pope Francis, Ben Sasse, Don Willett, Brock Long, Stephen Willeford and Johnnie Langendorff, Ariana Grande.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving.