Here is your year-end recap of "The Year in Politics," as half-remembered by a tired drunk, on New Year's Eve. We didn't make it a "list" or give it an "angle."
Hero of the Year
In October, a young McCain volunteer named Ashley Todd told police in Pittsburgh that she'd been savagely beaten and robbed by a black man, who carved a "B" into her face, for "Barack," after seeing her McCain bumper sticker. The "B" was carved backwards and of course it was immediately revealed that she made the entire thing up. God Bless Her for distilling everything weird and wrong with October of 2008 into one easy-to-digest anecdote. Our children will sing epic ballads extolling her heroism and bravery. She is the future.
George W. Bush's reign as official boogie-man of the left died this year, two years after his presidency. While it was part of Barack Obama's winning strategy to paint John McCain as Bush redux, he was much more successful in painting John McCain as John McCain, an erratic old coot who didn't understand things like "the economy."
Meanwhile Bush, who's been squatting, unwanted, in the White House doing nothing since the day after the 2006 midterm elections, spent the year on a goodbye goodwill tour, acting pathetic instead of mendacious, accomplishing nothing (which is far preferable to the "accomplishments" of the years of his presidency before he went out to lunch). No one remembers anything anymore, especially outrages, especially after an election year, and so Bush has oddly gone full circle, back to his pre-9/11 image as a hopeless-but-harmless dope in way over his head. Still: torture and Katrina. Also Dick Cheney, who is sabotaging the farewell tour with crazy interviews about how he REGRETS NOTHING. Did Bush destroy the Republican party for a generation? No, he didn't. Hell, he didn't destroy the Bush name even. They're unkillable—if George could survive his dad, Neil, and Marvin, Jeb can survive George. So drink a toast to the increasingly short memory of the American people, Jenna/Pierce '16!
Careers That Ended
John McCain, maverick. John Edwards, folksy effete populist. Oddly, just about everyone else who massively fucked up this year will remain employed. Even the Clintons!
Year of Bullshit
Lipstick on a Pig! God Damn America! Bittergate! We should have a "poll" of some kind, as to which one of those things was the stupidest distraction, but that would be depressing.
"Dad" Represents America In This Photo
Jackass of the Year
Mickey Kaus in a shocking upset! He just bugs us.
We tried to go back and read some of our posts from the beginning of this miserable year, to remind you of stories we once covered as if they mattered and immediately forgot, but christ, there were a lot of them and do you know how shitty the Gawker archives are? Here are some stories from late February and late January that you may or may not recall! We certainly don't remember writing about them.
Late January and Late February 2008 In Review
- Hillary Clinton, who was running for president when the year began, bought an hour of time on The Hallmark Channel in late January. No one mentioned this when Barack Obama totally ripped her off by buying a half-hour on every channel a couple months later, just because he could afford to!
- And Hillary's famous and wonderful and instantly iconic "3 a.m. Phone Call" ad ran in late February! We learned about it on Leap Day! Who knew then that by the end of the year she would not be answering any phone calls at any time because it's probably Mark Penn again, asking for money.
- The saga of Matt Drudge and Hillary Clinton was sordid and sad. She thought she had an "in" with him because he relies on her villainy to remain relevant, but he took far too much pleasure in taking her down to actually aid her in the primaries. So she baked cookies. With SATAN.
- In May of 2007, The Globe, one of the trashiest of the trashy tabloids, ran a photo of Barack Obama wearing a turban (fun fact: that post features my favorite dumb non sequitur joke of the year!). In February of this year, the photo mysteriously turned on on Drudge alongside a crazy story about how Hillary Clinton's people leaked it to him in order to smear Obama as a Muslim. It might be true! Mark Penn's strategy memos talked about painting Obama as insufficiently American, after all! On the other hand, Drudge might've just made it all up to fuck over Hillary some more. Who knows! Who cares! We did, then!
- Meanwhile Bill Clinton kept campaigning tirelessly, hitting up Nobu and Conde Nast.
- Oh god, remember Alycia Lane?
- For some reason there was a big debate over whether or not Hillary Clinton was funny. She is kinda funny. But being funny is bad, in politics. Just ask Mike Huckabee!
- We got all annoyed about "Garfield Minus Garfield" back in February and little did we know that it'd become a fucking book by the end of the year. Meanwhile the guys who invented "Arbuckle" continue to toil in obscurity.
- For a while we were all concerned about things like The Atlantic putting Britney Spears on the cover and Us Weekly doing wacky slideshows about the Obamas being Just Like Us and it all probably represented something seismic and epochal in Media and Culture but now honestly we're all just used to it.
- CNN supposedly banned Paul Begala and James Carville from the network during the early days of the primaries but that ban lasted about ten seconds. Meanwhile the Clintons waged war on MSNBC for its obvious pro-Obama biases, and they kept big-upping Fox for its fairness. Topsy-turvy!
- We all became delegate-counting experts, just like we all became Electoral College experts in 2000. Well, Hillary Clinton's campaign team forgot to become delegate-counting experts but they made up for it with infighting and hating the press.
- Bill Buckley, asshole, died.
Remember the GOP Also-Rans!
These guys were already finished by the time the year began.
Mike Huckabee, who used to be fat, and then got skinny, and is now kinda chubby again. Now he has a television show!
Rudy Giuliani finally gave up in January, after his brilliant "don't campaign anywhere except Florida, then lose Florida" strategy failed, just like his "put the city's emergency command center inside the city's biggest terrorism target" strategy, and his "leave your wife for your mistress at a press conference" strategy.
Oh man remember Fred Thompson? He was on TV, and he was southern, so he thought he was basically guaranteed the presidency. But it turns out that being boring and stupid doesn't play with voters (well, being boring doesn't play).
What Have We Learned?
Was this election actually remarkable in any way? Sure—we elected the first black president at the end of it. That's still pretty cool. But otherwise it was a fairly standard-issue rout, with the deeply unpopular second-term president forcing his party into nominating someone they didn't actually like that much and throwing him to the wolves without the resources of his more charismatic opponent. As usual the nation, in the midst of two wars, was distracted by bullshit until the pressing concerns of a cratering economy lent the proceedings a modicum of pretend seriousness. Still, presidential elections are all good fun for fans of "politics," and this one had Sarah Palin, which was kind of a treat, though it got exhausting. Anyway with Blago and Franken and Caroline Kennedy it is almost as if 2008 and its terrible election refuse to end! Maybe we will all wake up tomorrow and go back to caring about how Lindsey Lohan is a naked lesbian, again? Or maybe we'll all run out of jobs and money. HAPPY NEW YEAR CHARLIE BROWN.
Relive the Magic
There are like 20 pages of politics coverage available at this link.