Most Overinflated Story: Mark Foley Scandal
Amazing amounts of coverage and huge political damage, including a possible lost election, all resulting from what is essentially a story about a gay Congressman scrupulously avoiding molesting congressional pages. There was no sex and the pages weren't even underage, but yet the news media managed to drag it out for months and it cost people their careers, all over nothing.
More Machiavellian than Karl Rove: Rahm Emanuel
Rahm Emanuel of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee was a big winner for the year, engineering the remarkable election coup in November. He did it by manipulating and betraying his own constituencies with an amazing bait and switch, pimping and then selling out a slew of progressive candidates including the 'Band of Brothers', and ultimately dumping them for a creepy collection of pro-life demofascists who could actually beat the Republicans. There may be a price to pay in 2008, but Karl Rove would be proud.
It Came from Beyond the Political Graveyard: Newt Gingrich
We thought he was doomed to an eternity writing dull science fiction and appearing as a talking head on FOXNews, but somehow he's returned from the grave and people are actually talking about Newt as a presidential contender for 2008. Nostalgia for the honesty and compassion of the Contract for America is one thing, but is running the most divisive figure in modern politics really the way to win over moderates and independents?
Just Desserts: Rick Santorum
I like to call him Rick Sanctimonious, and I'm delighted that voters saw through his smug and preachy facade to the creepiness that lay beneath. All he needed was an opportunity to start a witch hunt – perhaps for gays in the State Department – and he could have been another Joe McCarthy. There's something uniquely satisfying about seeing a self-righteous, bigoted zealot go down to inevitable destriction primarily because his constituents got to see him in action and didn't like what they saw.
People I Just Wish Would Go Away in 2007: Jimmy Carter and Al Gore
How much preaching can we handle from two of the greatest political failures of the last 30 years? Here's a hint – if you had any good ideas you would have been able to win an election and you wouldn't be a 'goodwill ambassador' or promoting your latest high school-quality educational filmstrip.
Read the Writing on the Wall: Muslim Unrest in Europe
From the French riots to the Theo Van Gogh murder and the protests over the publication of cartoons depicting Mohammed in Denmark, one thing which became very clear this year is that a much larger portion of the muslim population all over the world consists of fanatics and lunatics, and that they are a threat in a lot more places than just the Middle East.
The New Mussolini: Hugo Chavez
Never has someone marched towards dictatorship with such panache, unless it was Il Duce himself. Chavez has to be given credit for being able to sell his own people on enthsiastically giving up their freedom, destroying their economy and preparing to launch all-out ideological war on most of their neighbors and voting him in as president-for-life at the same time. He's completely insane, but his self-confidence and arrogance are almost hypnotic.
Justice Gone South: Andrea Yates, Duke Lacrossemen, John Mark Karr
Our skewed perception of crime went even farther into fantasyland this year as Andrea Yates gets 30 days in a mental institution for murdering her five kids and is then freed. Meanwhile members of the Duke lacrosse team are dragged through a media circus with their lives, careers, and educations disrupted, protesting innocence the whole time, and after an interminable ordeal their claims of innocence are vindicated by DNA evidence. And it really ought to be a punishable crime to pretend to be a murdering pedophile just to get a free plane ticket and 15 minutes of fame. Admittedly John Mark Karr still faces some possible jail time on his old kiddy porn charge, but couldn't we find something more horrible and long term to do with him?
DIY News Pheonomenon: YouTube
From amusing video podcasts to eyewitness news video, YouTube became a force to be reckoned with and the forum for exposing some of the hottest stories of the year, including laying low a few politicians, most notably Virginia's George Allen. The problem, of course, is that for every worthwhile, groundbreaking video, there are about 10,000 videos of people analyzing their navel lint or practicing telepathy with their cats. Fortunately, FOXNews has gone through them all and selected their version of the best of YouTube, and if you're not keyed in to the phenomenon yet, it's a place to start.
Best Political Book of 2006: P. J. O'Rourke on the Wealth of Nations
This made it in under the wire with a December publication, but it's a real eye-opener. O'Rourke boils down the mammoth Adam Smith classic to a concise and humorous 200 pages and makes it readable for a contemporary audience. He provides historical background, covers the basic theories, and applies Smith's ideas to the modern world. Plus there's an unexpected and delightful appendix which uses Smith quotations to write a sort of alternative Devil's Dictionary. Read it. It's better than the original.Powered by Sidelines