Here’s my annual list looking at 2012:
Worst political primary performance of the year: Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s run for president. It wasn’t just his lackluster performance, forgetting his own program during a debate, or that video suggesting he had either an attack of giddiness or more than a few drinks. Perry never lived up to his advance mainstream and conservative media hype. He was not ready for the national stage. There are signs he will try it again in 2016 and maybe by then he will.
Best political comeback: California Gov. Jerry Brown. He was once California’s youngest governor, and if he’s re-elected will be its oldest. Some considered him a political goner as his referendum to raise taxes seemed sagging, but it won. The Politico notes that Brown “has staged a comeback this year that Bill Clinton could appreciate.”
Worst political pundit since the time of Moses: Fox News’ Dick Morris. He has no shame.
The best TV show: “Breaking Bad.” Better than “The Sopranos.” A work of art on several levels.
The second best political comeback: Former President Bill Clinton, who laid to rest perceptions that he might have lost his political chops. His Democratic Convention speech confirmed him as one of the most talented politicians of his generation.
The most obnoxious phrase of 2013: “Thanks for having me,” uttered like a mantra by cable news and ideological talk show guests. I’ve said that to my mother on Mother’s Day.
The talk show hosts with the most annoying habits: Both on MSNBC. Rachael Maddow seems to think she needs to repeat a phrase or idea four or five times before going onto the next one. Four or five times she’ll say the same phrase but repeat it. A phrase — she’ll take it and repeat it four or five times. Runner up: Martin Bashir (increasingly the left’s equivalent of Fox News’ Sean Hannity) who constantly uses the word “indeed” like a parrot. (Indeed.)
The best example of a serious problem-solver: Mitt Romney surrogate New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s willingness to actually say something nice about President Barack Obama. Christie’s working with him in Hurricane Sandy’s devastating aftermath is how our politics used to work -- when partisan hackery was put aside during crises.
The most clear-cut examples of trying to get someone because they disagree: More than 30,000 Americans signed a petition to try and get CNN’s Piers Morgan deported because of his strong gun-control stand. Some conservatives suggested NBC’s David Gregory should be arrested for violating D.C.’s ban of possession of a high capacity ammunition magazine by showing one during his aggressive interview NRA bigwig Wayne LaPierre. So they want Morgan out of the U.S. and Gregory in jail. This does seem a bit of a shift from how we used to conduct our political debate — doesn’t it?
The worst thing to happen: The murder of babies and dedicated educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
The most predictable thing to happen: The Newtown massacre spawned statements decrying the butchery and vows that assault weapon laws would be adjusted. The NRA kept mum until LaPierre gave a guns-are-blameless, caricature-affirming press conference saying “No” to changing laws. Now the political class may be getting back to normal: pro-NRA politicians are falling into line and little or nothing may be done. The answer to “how quickly they forget” may be: “Very.” The American public’s will be: “Never.”
Joe Gandelman is a veteran journalist and syndicated columnist. He can be reached at email@example.com .