12/27/2013 02:48 pm ET Updated Dec 28, 2013

2013's Biggest Political Blunders

The year 2013 had its share of high-profile political accomplishments. A bipartisan federal budget was signed into law; significant reforms were made to the military's handling of sexual assault cases, and a series of marriage-equality victories followed the repeal of the Defense Of Marriage Act.

But those were relatively modest political achievements in a year where even lawmakers admit very little good happened. There were far more impressive blunders and embarrassing revelations. HuffPost Live looked back Friday at some of the year's most politically damaging events.


The rollout of President Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement was plagued by numerous technical glitches and trouble-plagued deadlines. By Obama’s own admission, the launch was “fumbled” from the start, damaging the law’s popularity in the process. One poll found that even millennials were shaken by the rollout -- a group that typically shows high support for Obama.

The Government Shutdown

When the federal government shut down for 16 days in October over a failure to resolve funding disagreements, it cost the U.S. economy billions of dollars, sent shockwaves through the global financial markets, and left some viewing America as the laughing stock of the world. Senate Republicans, led by establishment moderates John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), came down hard on tea party Republicans for the shutdown tactics. McCain was especially critical, describing the shutdown as “shameful.” When asked if Republicans gained anything by forcing the closure on many government functions, Ayotte replied "I think the answer is no."

NSA Leaks

Back in June, The Guardian published leaked documents provided by a National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden that detailed massive data-collection programs being carried out inside and outside the United States. Since then, Snowden, aided by reporters such as former Guardian scribe Glenn Greenwald, has made a string of embarrassing and damaging revelations including the NSA’s tapping of Angela Merkel's personal phones. Snowden has said his mission has already been accomplished by raising awareness of the NSA’s spying. However, the legal impacts of his leaks remain unclear. One federal judge ruled Friday that the NSA’s phone surveillance program is legal, while another federal judge ruled last week the program was likely unconstitutional.

For more of 2013’s most-damaging political stories, including Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s crack-smoking fiasco, watch the video above.



Edward Snowden