I guess we all have our ideas on the best and worst of 2008. Mine may be a little different than those that you see in the mainstream media and while some names are obvious, my reasons might surprise you. So here we go! I’ll start with the worst first so we can end on a positive note.
WORST PEOPLE OF 2008
10th- Pastor John Hagee: the pastor who endorsed John McCain who believed that Hitler and his band of evil murderers were God’s chosen “hunters,” divine agents whose atrocities were sanctioned for the greater good of driving European Jews to Palestine.
9th- Pastor Jeremiah Wright: The President-elect’s former pastor made matters worse when he addressed the Washington Press Club and exhibited his self-serving need for attention.
8th- Senator John McCain: The Senator debased his heroic legacy by politicizing the horror he went through in Viet Nam, his pandering and his race baiting in the election. Mr. McCain tarnished his own legacy by having the very sort of sleazy campaign that was run against him by George W. Bush in 2000. If it were not for Senator McCain’s graceful concession speech, he would be higher in my list.
7th- Senator Joe Lieberman: Senator Lieberman became an embarrassment. He was free to endorse whomever he wanted- but he decided to play a prominent role in the smear campaign against Senator Obama and participate with vigor in the hate fest which was known as the Republican National Convention.
6th- Joe the Plumber: This unlicensed plumber became a national joke. The problem with Joe was that he took himself seriously and actually made policy pronouncements. We should all take a lesson from this sort of drunkness with 15 minutes of fame.
5th- Governor Rod Blagojevich: The awful Governor of Illinois who was trying to sell the Senate seat vacated by President-elect Obama deserves to be on anyone’s “worst list”.
4th – Governor Sarah Palin: Quite simply Governor Palin had no business on a national ticket. Her being chosen was an insult to the American people. Her crime isn’t that she isn’t bright it is that she doesn’t realize her own inabilities. She showed that she is not the good Christian woman she says she is because she lied for political gain- most notably that she said “No to the bridge to nowhere” and that she sold the Governor’s plane on eBay.
3rd- President George W. Bush: Clearly President Bush has run this country into the ground and as he leaves office he leaves a nation in tatters with an economic recession and with two wars. When Mr. Bush was “elected” in 2000 many of us were clear that Mr. Bush would not be a good President. Little did we know how bad he would be. He has gone beyond our lowest expectations and it will take years to right his wrongs.
2nd- The Mormon Church: Although not a person, the Mormon Church showed itself as a faith of hate and intolerance by injecting itself into the Proposition 8 campaign in California- a state where they aren’t a terribly prominent group. They resourced, through volunteers and money, a campaign to take away the right of same sex couples to marry in California, and thus supported intolerance, bigotry and hate.
1st- Vice President Dick Cheney: The Vice President admitted sanctioning torture- breaking international law and the Geneva Convention- thus making him guilty of war crimes. He also stated that he would have repeated the invasion of Iraq even if he had known the WMD intelligence was flawed. That answer should not have surprised anyone since it has been clear that Mr. Cheney and his neo-con friends were looking for a reason to invade Iraq. But the main reason that Mr. Cheney is #1 is because he is a war criminal.
BEST PEOPLE of 2008
10th- Paul Krugman: Nobel Laureate in Economics and Columnist for the New York Times has hit the mark every time when talking about the economy. Mr. Krugman can take very complex economic issues and make them understandable to the lay person.
9th- Rachel Maddow: The MSNBC News and Air America personality has brought intelligence and dignity to the raucous world of political punditry. She is strong without being strident and she is in a word- brilliant.
8th- Christopher Buckley: Mr. Buckley put his relationship with his family legacy- “The National Review” founded by his father – on the line by endorsing Barack Obama for President. He was one of the first and most prominent conservatives to endorse Mr. Obama.
7th – President Bill Clinton: President Clinton deserves to be on any best person list because of the work done by the Clinton Global Initiative. Mr. Clinton was like a junkyard dog in the primary being an overly zealous supporter for his wife to the extreme. But Mr. Clinton rose above his own personal feelings to ultimately be an important supporter of the President-elect and showed an important level of integrity when agreeing to disclose more about his finances than any former President so his wife could become the Secretary of State designee unsullied.
6th- General Colin Powell: General Powell appeared on “Meet The Press” and laid out one of the most thoughtful, methodical, eloquent and intelligent endorsements of a candidate when he spoke about his support for Mr. Obama. It was clear that General Powell had thought carefully about this endorsement and gave one of the most compelling endorsements of any candidate I have ever heard.
5th- Vice President Al Gore: The Vice President deserves to be on this list because of his vigilance on the issue of climate change. Thanks -in no small part to Mr. Gore- climate change was an issue embraced by both Presidential candidates.
4th- David Axelrod and David Plouffe: These two men quite simply ran the best Presidential campaign in US history. Whether or not one supported President-elect Obama, one cannot help but to be impressed by the campaign that these two me and their candidate ran.
3rd- Senator Hillary Clinton: Senator Clinton has been a respected member of the Senate and was a fierce campaigner in the Democratic primary and put 18 million cracks into the marble ceiling in Washington making any young girl’s aspirations be limitless. While some of her tactics were circumspect and she didn’t run the best campaign, she quickly rallied around Senator Obama and put aside her feelings for the better good and did so with gusto and grace faster than many of her supporters or her husband.
2nd- President-elect Barack Obama: The President-elect made history and he ran a flawless campaign. For the first time in my life I saw a leader build support from the ground up with a respect for the intelligence of voters that has been sorely lacking. President-elect Obama has overcome amazing odds- a black first term Senator beat the might of the Clinton machine and then went on to become the first black President in US history and the first ethnic minority to rule a Western democratic nation and won by a sizable margin. Mr. Obama has continued to impress as he has methodically put together one of the most talented cabinets and team of advisors I have ever seen.
1st- The American Electorate: The American Electorate redeemed themselves after being asleep in 2004 when George W. Bush was rëelected despite his dismal failures. This time the American people did not cave into fear and pandering and instead made a choice based on facts. This election had more people intelligently engaged than any time in my lifetime. It gives us all hope when we see people this engaged in the business of our nation.