For six 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.
2012: The Culture Warriors, Unions, The Poll Unskewers, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, MSNBC
So without further ado, here are my nominees for Turkey of the Year:
Healthcare.Gov: Up until October, the second nominee on the list was winning. But over time, Healthcare.gov has eclipsed everything. It doesn’t work, it’s not secure, it’s expensive as hell and all these problems were known well in advance and ignored for political purposes. And really dumb political purposes. Who the hell did Obama think he was fooling? Did he think no one would notice that the website didn’t work?
Now Obama’s defenders will tell you how the contracting process with the government is broken and horrendously expensive. Projects are proposed, revised, endlessly monitored, started from scratch and revised again. On IT, in particular, the execution is horrific. All that is true. However … we were told that this was an advanced 21st century Administration. They revolutionized politics in 2008 with their organization, right? The government’s dysfunction was precisely what he was supposed to fix. And fixing it was well within his powers as chief executive.
One of the first things Bill Clinton did on taking office was his “reinventing government” initiative. It was a key reason why his Presidency worked as well as it did. Every President who is successful understands that government accumulates cruft over the years and needs periodic reworking. Our current government is the cruft equivalent of the Augean stables. And Obama has, if anything, made it worse.
To me, this really gets at the heart of Obama’s problem. He’s great on rhetoric; he’s bad on ideas. But when it comes to running the actual engine of government, he’s simply terrible. He has a Justice Department that insists they won’t raid marijuana facilities and does; he has a State Department that can’t figure out that an Al-Qaeda stronghold in Benghazi might be a hot spot; he has a healthcare system that doesn’t work. I don’t expect Obama to micromanage. He’s not supposed to be sitting down and writing a million lines of code. But he can pick competent managers to make things work and he hasn’t. He has surrounded himself with incompetent, pigheaded ideological morons. He can hold people accountable and recognize when a Department is messing up. He doesn’t. Really, it’s a miracle the country is still standing. I meant what I said a few weeks ago: Obama should have fired Sebelius and hired someone like Romney to clean up the mess. That would have been leadership.
The Platinum Coin: I flagged this earlier in the year as the dumbest idea ever to surface in Washington. Heavyweights like Paul Krugman were insisting that our debt ceiling problem could be solved by using a legal loophole to mint a $1 trillion platinum coin. The idea was so dumb that even Barack Obama said he wouldn’t do it.
The Shutdown Caucus: This did nothing to stop Obamacare; if anything it distracted from it. But the chief architects think it was a success … because it raised a lot of money for their PACs.
The Park Service: It’s one thing, during a government shutdown, to close parks that have to be actively managed. But the Park Service became a national cuss word when they shut down open air monuments and tried to block Honor Flight veterans from going to them.
Fiscal Cliff Panic Mongers: We’re supposed to be in the worst recession ever. Government discretionary spending was cut 5% by the sequester and taxes were raised. According to the economists, we should be having a collapsing economy, massive unemployment and plagues of locusts. But the economy has kept humming along in the not-really-a-recovery-but-not-really-a-recession-either mode that has defined Obama’s presidency.
Dishonorable Mentions: Paul Krugman, Andrew Sullivan, MSNBC, the Democratic Gubernatorial Nominees, Detroit
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 (ugh), the Technicians at Fukushima
2012: Down Ballots, The Sandy Responders, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, Mathew Inman
For this year, I picked:
Pope Francis: Since his inauguration, he has been one of the most inspiring figures on the world stage (admittedly a low bar). I’m not Catholic. Although I practice Judaism, my faith wavers. But I look forward to hearing what Pope Francis has done lately and am frequently moved.
When you boil it down, he is just a good man, seemingly unaffected by the wealth and power that come with his office and filled with the love and charity that defines religion for the vast majority of people. It started when he decide to wash the feet not of his priests but of detainees in a prison for minors. He is trying to defuse culture wars, eschews wealth and privelege, is reaching out to atheists and has had several amusing and touching viral moments. He’s not sacrificing the Church’s views on anything; he’s trying to find common ground with those who disagree with the Church. You should really read this long interview with him:
“But I am always wary of decisions made hastily. I am always wary of the first decision, that is, the first thing that comes to my mind if I have to make a decision. This is usually the wrong thing. I have to wait and assess, looking deep into myself, taking the necessary time. The wisdom of discernment redeems the necessary ambiguity of life and helps us find the most appropriate means, which do not always coincide with what looks great and strong.”
To be clear, I don’t agree with him on everything. Last week, he issued an Evangelii Gaudium about capitalism and wealth that was ignorant of the gigantic strides that have been made in eradicating global poverty thanks to capitalism. The Left predictably went all faint and blushing; I expect that will last until he says something about abortion. The Church has had a long and unfortunate affinity for socialism. But the whole point of his first year is that it is OK to disagree with him; he will seek common ground.
My mother says he reminders her of John XXIII. I hope he lasts for a long time.
Edward Snowden: I’ll admit that I have mixed feelings about this. I still wonder about his motives and what he has given to the Russians and the Chinese. He has occasionally revealed stuff I don’t think needed to be revealed (like the fact that we — gasp! — spy on other countries). But no one would be discussing the NSA’s gigantic surveillance empire without Snowden. For that, if nothing else, I appreciate him.
Rand Paul: Paul carried out an epic filibuster to force the Administration to disclaim droning American citizens on American soil. His speech at Howard was ridiculed by the Left, but he at least tried to reach out to black people and his efforts were appreciate by the students there. Another man I don’t agree with on everything. But he is advancing some very important banners.
The American Military: Do you know we are still fighting wars overseas? Do you know that our soldiers are still fighting with honor and courage and being an exemplar to the world? You might not since the MSM doesn’t talk about our wars any more. But they are still out there, standing on that wall.
The Institute for Justice: The continue to win fight after fight for property and contract rights. They are the only force really pushing back on Imminent Domain and Asset Forfeiture, claiming victories for Saint Joseph Abbey of St. Benedict, the Caswells and the Dehkos. Bravo
Honorable Mention: Bush 41, Honor Flight, Tammy Duckworth, Chris Hadfield