[This is the second article of a two-part series. The first installment ran yesterday.]
Yesterday, I listed my choices for the award categories given yearly by the McLaughlin Group show on PBS. All of the categories in yesterday's article were featured on last week's show.
Today, I offer my selections for winners of the rest of the McLaughlin Awards (assuming they haven't changed categories since last year). These categories can be seen on this upcoming weekend's McLaughlin Group, on your local PBS station. The transcript, when it becomes available some time next week, will be posted at the show's website).
And now, the envelope please....
DESTINED FOR STARDOM
Eliot Spitzer. All eyes are currently on Barack Obama, but Eliot Spitzer may wind up being the one to watch. He just won a landslide (69%) victory in his campaign for New York governor, and many suspect he has set his sights even higher. He would likely annoy New Yorkers by jumping into the presidential ring in 2008 (after only serving one year of his term), but if the other frontrunners are damaged early, he may decide to jump in late in the campaign. Safer money is on him running in the future (2012 or 2016). But he is definitely a Democrat to watch in the future.
DESTINED FOR OBLIVION
Karl Rove. While other names suggest themselves (John Bolton, Tom DeLay, George Allen), I believe Rove is going to be tossed overboard by Bush at some point in the next year. Some have suggested that Rove's not going anywhere because he knows where the bodies are buried and which closets the skeletons are in, but I don't buy it. Rove didn't singlehandedly lose the House and Senate for the Republicans, but he was the one whispering in Bush's ear that everything was going to be OK, and that they weren't going to lose either house. Look for Bush to "accept his resignation" on a very slow news day, like the Friday before a holiday.
BEST POLITICAL THEATER
Barack Obama's recent television ad (which ran a couple weeks ago on ESPN, before a Chicago Bears game on Monday Night Football). The other contenders for this award were Latino voters marching en masse last spring (very impressive, but not very productive after the dust settled, in terms of new voters registered), and the giant rubber stamp (hilarious, but didn't make much of a splash). But Barack's ad tops them both. It was funny, both poking fun at himself and at the media frenzy which now surrounds him.
WORST POLITICAL THEATER
George Allen's "Macaca" moment. One stupid unscripted and revealing comment from Senator Allen, and he's out of a job and his dreams of running for president have been crushed forever. A cautionary note to all politicians from now on: no matter how "safe" an audience you think you have, resist the urge to reveal your true self by saying something idiotic. Because it will be on YouTube the next day. Honorable (dishonorable?) mention to the "Call me, Harold" ad run in the Tennessee Senate race.
WORST POLITICAL SCANDAL
Mark Foley. His trolling for Congressional pages helped suppress the Republican turnout nationwide. Denny Hastert learned Watergate Lesson #1 the hard way: it isn't the crime, it's the coverup. The media predictably went nutso-crazy over the story, since it was so salacious a scandal. Nothing else comes close this year.
MOST UNDERREPORTED STORY OF 2006
I have to give a three-way tie for this category, since I just couldn't pick between these three: Afghanistan and the resurgence of the Taliban; former Guantanamo prisoners (and other "extraordinary rendition" prisoners) speaking out and telling the world their first-person stories of abuse at American hands; and the gradual disappearance of our "coalition of the willing" in Iraq. There were many other stories that were underreported by the mainstream (corporate) media, but these three are the most egregious examples.
MOST OVERREPORTED STORY OF 2006
For the sixth straight year... Paris Hilton. No, seriously, I would have to say bird flu. I've heard rumors that Dick Cheney has financial interest in the company that makes Tamiflu, which sure could explain a lot, but for two or three months all the media could yammer about was the deadliness of a disease that killed a couple hundred people world-wide, none of them in the United States. Of course, over in Celebrityland, there were countless stories that could also qualify -- from Tom Cruise and Mel Gibson and Kramer to weddings to babies to adoptions to Katie Couric. Yawn.
BIGGEST GOVERNMENT WASTE
Iraq. Not just the war, but the reconstruction money that was supposed to rebuild the Iraqi infrastructure, but instead wound up in contractors' pockets (and Swiss bank accounts). One can only hope some Congressional committees will soon be holding hearings on the massive and widespread waste and fraud of our tax dollars.
BEST GOVERNMENT DOLLAR SPENT
The last dollar in Donald Rumsfeld's last paycheck. No? How about tsunami relief money then? Or perhaps the state money that is starting to flow into stem cell research, as different states compete to create research jobs.
BOLDEST POLITICAL TACTIC
Howard Dean's 50-State Strategy. I guess this is technically a "strategy" not a "tactic," but it still was the most brilliant political maneuver of the past year. Dean had to fight with centrists (Rahm Emanuel, the Democratic Leadership Council, et al) in the Democratic Party over this concept, but it paid off big time in November.
BEST IDEA OF 2006
Firing Donald Rumsfeld. It came about four years too late, but still, a wonderful idea.
WORST IDEA OF 2006
George Bush's "stay the course." With a runner-up mention for the Dubai Ports deal.
SORRY TO SEE YOU GO
James Brown. Also Ann Richards, Robert Altman and Bo Schembechler (Go Blue!). If there were a "not sorry to see you go" category, Pinochet would top the list, followed closely by Ken Lay.
FIFTEEN MINUTES OF FAME
Harry Whittington, who caught a face full of Dick Cheney's birdshot, and then subsequently apologized for causing such a fuss. Only the second person shot by a Vice President in American history!
MOST HONEST PERSON OF THE YEAR
Jack Murtha, with special mention for Keith Olbermann.
Ned Lamont. Once he won the primary, he just couldn't get any traction whatsoever. Honorable mentions for Katie Couric, and for Apolo Ohno, Bode Miller, Sasha Cohen (the ice skater, not "Borat") and all the rest of the over-hyped American Winter Olympic athletes.
The Taliban and the Iraqi insurgents. By Bush, of course. In the political world, Virginia's Senator-elect Jim Webb and, of course, Howard Dean.
Speaker Pelosi will do a great job.
Karl Rove will be booted from the White House.
Congress will censure Bush and Cheney and "move on," but will not impeach.
NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION
To get paid for writing these columns. I love writing them, and now I'm ready for my paycheck!