My 2018 "McLaughlin Awards" [Part 1]

[ Posted Friday, December 21st, 2018 – 19:52 UTC ]

Welcome back once again to our year-end awards column series! Today we'll have part one, and then we'll finish up next Friday with part two. As always, we will be using the (slightly-modified, over time) awards categories first thought up by the incomparable McLaughlin Group television political-chatfest show.

As always, these columns are the longest of the year, presented on the shortest days of the year. So sit back, grab some eggnog, and settle in front of the fire for our year-end awards. Without further ado, let's get right to it!


   Biggest Winner Of 2018

While there were many candidates for Biggest Winner Of 2018 who were indeed worthy, we had to go with two interlocking candidates. Runners-up include women (in general) for the "Year Of The Woman II" in the midterm elections; the resurgence of gun control as a Democratic political issue; and Conor Lamb, who pulled off one of the most impressive wins in a special House election in Pennsylvania's 18th district.

But our Biggest Winner Of 2018 is twofold: the Democrats in the midterms, and the biggest issue they campaigned on, protecting Obamacare.

Obamacare was the clear winning issue this year. Protecting coverage for people with pre-existing conditions was the constant theme for Democrats from coast to coast. This was the first election cycle where Republicans ran away from their previous stances on Obamacare, and indeed hardly mentioned the subject at all. It was also the first election cycle where Democrats ran a full-throated campaign in support of Obamacare. This is a monumental political pendulum-swing, folks. As time goes on, Obamacare just keeps getting more and more popular.

The Republicans in Congress, obviously, overreached one time too many when, last year, they spent an enormous amount of time and energy trying one last time to repeal Obamacare entirely. Problem was, they could never come up with any sort of replacement, and the public took note. It seemed the GOP was falling all over itself trying to kick as many millions of people off health insurance as they possibly could, while Democrats fought back as hard as they could. This time, the voters actually remembered this when it came time for all these folks to run for re-election.

But the biggest winner was the Democratic Party as a whole, as they enjoyed the biggest midterm victory since Watergate. They flipped 40 House seats, seven governors, over 300 state legislative seats, and they won many progressive ballot initiatives as well. Come January, Nancy Pelosi will not only be regaining the speaker's gavel, she will actually be driving the entire political agenda in Washington. For all the naysaying about the blue wave and all the idiocy from the pundits throughout the campaign (more on that later), the Democrats won a big victory this November, running on preserving and expanding Obamacare, and both have to be considered the Biggest Winners Of 2018.


   Biggest Loser Of 2018

We could have given the Biggest Loser Of 2018 to Donald Trump and the Republicans. Or specific GOP politicians, like Wisconsin's Scott Walker or Kris Kobach from Kansas. Or abstractions like Trump's wall, or a collective (and sad) award for "all the DACA kids who got ignored time and time again."

But instead, we're taking this one very literally, and awarding Biggest Loser Of 2018 to "the White House and the executive branch staff." We made a list of all the people we remember making an exit from the Trump administration this year, although we have probably forgotten at least a few other folks, because there were just so damn many of them. This year saw the exit of:

  • Rob Porter (wife-beating allegations)
  • Hope Hicks (who lasted a whole 19.6 Scaramuccis!)
  • Gary Cohn (didn't agree with Trump's tariffs)
  • Rex Tillerson (fired by tweet)
  • Steve Goldstein (fired with Tillerson)
  • H. R. McMaster
  • John McEntee (president's "body man")
  • John Dowd (Trump lawyer)
  • Ty Cobb (Trump lawyer)
  • Scott Pruitt (under cloud of many scandals)
  • Ronny Jackson (didn't actually join, had to withdraw bid for V.A. secretary)
  • Mark Short
  • Don McGahn (after being fired by presidential tweet, responded: "Of course it happened this way!")
  • Jeff Sessions (fired immediately after midterms)
  • John Kelly
  • Nikki Haley (quit)
  • Ryan Zinke (under cloud of many scandals)
  • Jim Mattis (just quit yesterday)

Whew! That's quite a list, you've got to admit, for one year's time. Trump has the fastest revolving door of any president, as aides come in, stay for a short period, and then make an exit, often under a serious cloud or two. It is hard to even keep up with how many people are leaving, at times, since during some weeks there are multiple firings.

So the Biggest Loser Of 2018 was the entire Trump administration, for the sheer number of people they lost along the way, in one way or another.


   Best Politician

This one is pretty obvious, when you think about it. Nancy Pelosi was without a doubt the Best Politician of the year. The Republicans ran tens of thousands of attack ads against her all across the country, but it didn't tarnish Pelosi a bit. She was the biggest focus of Republican hatred and fearmongering throughout the midterm campaign, but none of it worked.

Pelosi led the Democratic blue wave and despite the media wishing for some sort of intraparty upset, will become the speaker of the House once again next year. Pelosi's political instincts are beyond compare, and her ability to hold her caucus together through eight years of surviving the political wilderness (of being in the House minority) was downright masterful. Now she is set to reap the rewards of all this hard work, and there's really only one reason for this -- because she was the Best Politician of the year, hands down. The icing on the cake was watching her school Trump in that Oval Office meeting a few weeks ago -- which cemented her speakership bid, in fact. Nancy Pelosi will be a big thorn in Trump's side for the next two years, and we personally can hardly wait for that to start.


   Worst Politician

This one's easy, just like it was last year. The Worst Politician of the year was without doubt Donald Trump.

It's so exhausting to even list why that we cannot provide links to the following (which would be a monumental task on its own), so you'll just have to take our word that these all happened last year (in no particular order):

Trump calls into Fox And Friends on his wife's birthday, and admits he only got her a card and some flowers, because he's been "busy."

Trump decides he has earned the Nobel Peace Prize for setting up a meeting with Kim Jong Un.

Trump (wrongly, of course) accuses Canada (while in Canada meeting with Prime Minister Trudeau) of burning down the White House in the War of 1812.

Trump, before a visit to shooting survivors in Texas, says to the press: "We're going to have a little fun today." A bereaved parent later said of her meeting with Trump; "It was like talking to a toddler."

Trump, right when hurricane season began, had a briefing with FEMA where he dominated the whole thing with rants about politics and other non-hurricane subjects.

Trump disinvites the Eagles to the White House after their Super Bowl win, holds a different event to show how God-fearingly patriotic he is (Trump wrongly thought there were players on the Eagles who took a knee for the National Anthem, it's worth pointing out), and then forgot the words to "God Bless America."

The Helsinki summit with Putin. 'Nuff said. After which, Trump invites Putin to the White House right before the midterm election, only to have Putin turn him down.

Trump says his mother used to "gestate" a turkey for many hours, in her oven.

Trump was so petulant, even after John McCain died, that he ordered the White House flag to fly at full-staff rather than honoring McCain as every other president has done for every other important senator's death.

Trump freezes all federal workers' pay, to celebrate Labor Day. You just can't make this stuff up!

Trump colors the United States flag wrong, while sitting with small children who managed to do it correctly.

Trump becomes the literal laughingstock of the world at the United Nations.

Trump insists on multiple occasions that "treason" means "being mean to me," even though it most certainly does not.

Of Hurricane Florence, Trump says it is: "tremendously big and tremendously wet," and then further clarifies: "This is a tough hurricane, one of the wettest we've ever seen from the standpoint of water." Right when the hurricane hit, Trump tweeted out for everyone to immediately evacuate, even though that would have been deadly. Trump later warns people "not to spread falsehoods" about what to do in a hurricane, just to add some irony. When touring the aftermath, Trump is fascinated by a boat that has landed in a homeowner's yard. His inane "Whose boat is this boat?" comments are later turned into a best-selling children's book by Stephen Colbert, which has (to date) raised over a million bucks for charities who dealt with the hurricane's aftermath.

Trump considers the death count from Puerto Rico's Hurricane Maria -- which reached "over twice as many dead as Hurricane Katrina" -- to be a political hit job orchestrated by the Democrats. Needless to say, it was not.

Trump tells the Spanish foreign minister to just build a wall across the Sahara Desert to solve their immigration problems.

Trump misuses the United States military in the final days before the election, in an effort to fire up his base, by sending them to a pointless mission at the southern border. He then doubles down and keeps them there over the holidays, so they'll miss both Thanksgiving and Christmas with their families.

Trump sides with Saudi Arabia rather than his own intelligence service over who was responsible for the death of a journalist working for an American newspaper.

Trump (falsely) accuses Democrats of funding the caravan, and warns that there will be riots in the streets if the Democrats win the midterms.

Trump is strangely quiet when a rabid Trump supporter begins sending pipe bombs through the mail to Democrats and the media. This was one of the biggest terrorist attacks ever attempted, but Trump obviously doesn't care.

Trump skips a ceremony at Belleau Wood to honor the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day because of a light rainfall. Others from Trump's entourage successfully made the trip, but Trump stayed back at the hotel to watch television.

Trump says buying breakfast cereal requires a voter ID (it does not).

Trump promises his cheering fans a 10 percent middle-class tax cut before the election, even though this is impossible. Trump then continues to make this claim even long after it has been explained to him that it is impossible.

Trump promised his supporters that Mexico would pay for the wall, and (later) that Mexico would pay for the wall through a trade deal, but after cutting a trade deal with them, Trump has no wall money to show for it. So he demands U.S. taxpayers pay for it, and threatens to shut the government down when Democrats refuse.

Trump meets with the Chinese leader and then announces the trade war is over (it is not).

Trump finishes the year up with a disastrous on-camera meeting with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, which gave us all a preview of what the next two years are going to look like.

Oh, and Trump continues to insist that there is no "Smocking gun."

Whew! And that's not even a comprehensive list, just our most favorite idiocies from the past year. With that weighty a record, it is indeed impossible to award the Worst Politician to anyone other than President Donald Trump, for the second year in a row.


   Most Defining Political Moment

There were a lot of defining political moments last year, most of them from President Trump. There was the cringe-worthy press conference after Trump met Putin in Helsinki, Finland. There was Trump kowtowing to another dictator, North Korea's Kim Jong Un. There was Trump denying that his buddy (yet another autocratic strongman) the crown prince of Saudi Arabia had anything to do with murdering and dismembering a journalist who worked for a prominent American newspaper. All were variations on the same theme, really.

There was the continuing drip, drip, drip of the Mueller court filings, indictments, guilty pleas, guilty verdicts, and sentences being handed down. There was the horrific spectacle of the Brett Kavanaugh hearings, which will reverberate for years to come.

There were a few positive defining political moments as well, starting with the blue wave midterm election. That is going to define politics for the next two years, in fact. There was the March For Our Lives held by the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting survivors, and the movement that followed.

But there was one defining political moment, or (to be strictly accurate) a whole bunch of very similar moments that really deserve the Most Defining Political Moment award. Because "Trump holds yet another rally" really defined the politics of the midterm election season for all Republicans, whether they liked it or not.

Trump, obviously, loves rallies. He loves the roar of an adoring crowd. Who wouldn't? He loves getting on a roll and ignoring the TelePrompTer and just winging it with whatever pops into his brain. This happened a lot, which is why a typical Trump rally contained so many outright lies they were tough to count (the Washington Post tried to keep up, and calculated that roughly three-fourths of all statements at a Trump rally were either wild exaggerations or outright falsehoods). There were the fun times when Trump would just pull some wacky idea out of his rear, leaving his entire administration to scramble in an attempt to provide some veneer of reality to Trump's worldview.

But mostly, there was the xenophobia and racism. The Republicans had a grand plan for the midterms, before Trump started holding rallies. They were going to run on two related subjects: the booming economy and the tax cuts they had passed. These two things were going to protect their majorities in Congress and defeat the Resistance against Trump.

But a funny thing happened along the way. The public wasn't all that impressed about the economic stats, adopting more of a "What have you done for me lately?" stance. And the tax cuts were clear losers as a political issue, because -- for once -- the public figured out in advance that the lion's share (over 80 percent, in fact) of the benefits went to Wall Street and the ultra-wealthy. The issue polled terribly, no matter how many ads the GOP ran bragging about the wonderfulness of their tax cuts.

Trump decided to upset the whole applecart of the Republican election strategy, which he did by focusing on his own pet issue: how hordes of brown people were coming to rape and murder everyone in their own beds, probably next Tuesday. Trump decided to institute a "zero tolerance" policy at the border, which resulted in locking small children in cages and jails. It didn't go over very well, but that didn't stop him from doubling down on the fearmongering. He issued dire warnings about a caravan of people so poor they had to walk thousands of miles to even legally apply for political asylum at the border. Overnight, this caravan of poor huddled masses became filled with terrorists, gang members, and people infected with deadly diseases. It was, Trump told his rallies, an actual invasion of our country. In a last-minute bit of "October surprise" theater, Trump sent thousands of U.S. military troops to the border to do not much of anything (since they are barred by law from actually doing border security tasks).

It didn't matter how many saner heads in the GOP tried to talk Trump down from his election strategy, Trump simply would not listen. Fear of immigrants (the brown ones in particular) had won him his election, as far as he was concerned, and it would work wonders the second time around, too. He cut ads warning that illegal immigrants would soon be in everyone's backyard, ready to rape and pillage. He cut a final ad in the homestretch of the election that was described as "the Willie Horton ad, on steroids," which prominently featured a Latino who had murdered cops. Trump stoked racist fears in an effort to turn out his very white base, and he wasn't particularly subtle about it.

Towards the end, Trump got increasingly desperate and started flailing about, warning (inexplicably) that Democrats would be rioting in the streets if they won the midterm election (dancing in the streets was much more likely), and one fine day at a rally decided to pull a "10 percent middle-class tax cut" out of his ass. He promised loudly that this tax cut would pass Congress and be signed into law "by the end of October." This was absolutely impossible -- Congress was in recess and would not return before the election happened, but Trump just flat-out didn't understand this reality, so he went right on promising it to the cheering crowds (after the election, the issue conveniently went down the memory hole, of course).

But his main campaign theme, from beginning to end, was nothing short of xenophobia and racism. Fear the brown-skinned immigrant, for so many reasons. Only Trump and the Republicans would be able to save America from the invasion of the caravan (another issue which conveniently disappeared immediately after the election).

So we can't point to one particular rally as the "moment" when this whole strategy was launched, but instead can point to all the Trump rallies where he gleefully stoked the fears of his base over immigration as the Most Defining Political Moment of the year. All the other Republicans were completely defined by Trump's crusade, whether they wanted to be or not. It defined what turned out to be the GOP's losing election strategy, in fact. Suburban voters, women, young voters, and ethnic voters were all repulsed by this strategy and turned out in droves to vote for Democrats. In a word, it backfired on Trump. Badly. But his anti-immigrant rallies were, for us, the Defining Political Moment of the year.


   Turncoat Of The Year

This is a category with a lot of possibilities, mostly because there were so many people who flipped on Trump during the year. But let's examine some of the other nominees first.

On the Democratic side, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had two rather shameful events during the campaign season. In the first, they dug up opposition research on a candidate in a Texas House race and then disseminated it to the public. Standard procedure, right? Except that the oppo research was done on a Democratic candidate during the primaries. The D.C.C.C. was not above putting its thumb on the scale rather blatantly, which is precisely the sort of thing that disgusted many Democratic voters in the 2016 election. But an even worse bit of turncoatism (so to speak) was when the D.C.C.C. actually ran political ads and robocalls for a Republican candidate in a California House primary race. There was a Machiavellian reason for doing so (California's crazy "top-two jungle primary"), but still this qualifies (at the very least) as "too cute by half." Are Democratic donors really giving their money to the D.C.C.C. to run pro-Republican ads, after all? The Democratic Party as a whole needs to adopt a strict neutrality policy for the primary season, to avoid such embarrassments in the future.

Also on the Democratic side was Joe Manchin, who voted for Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation. That's all we really need to say about that, for obvious reasons. But an even bigger turncoat was Chuck Schumer, who in an earlier government shutdown fight offered to give the president everything he was asking for on his border wall -- fully funding it to the tune of 25 billion taxpayer dollars -- to try to strike a deal on the DACA problem. Thankfully, Trump was too stupid to actually agree. Or, to be more accurate, Trump did initially agree, but then backed down hours later after some of his advisors screamed at him. In the end, Trump didn't get his money and the DACA issue was not dealt with. But for Schumer to even have made the offer was shocking.

There were the multiple co-conspirators from the Trump campaign and administration who flipped on him this year and started cooperating with the Mueller investigation. George Papadopoulos, Rick Gates, Michael Flynn, and Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Alan Weisselberg all flipped and started giving Mueller evidence. Notable among these was Paul Manafort, who flipped numerous times it seems (was he a double-agent or a triple-agent, reporting back to Team Trump what Mueller was up to?). The most spectacular of these was without doubt Michael Cohen, who after swearing he would "take a bullet" for Trump decided later on that his family and his conscience dictated that he cooperate and tell Mueller everything he knew -- which turned out to be a lot. At the end of the year, he appeared in court denouncing all of Trump's "dirty deeds," which certainly set him apart even in this rogues' gallery of turncoats.

But the biggest turncoat and our winner of Turncoat Of The Year has so far remained anonymous. Right before Bob Woodward's book on the Trump administration appeared (aptly titled Fear) went on sale, an opinion article appeared in the New York Times titled: "I Am Part Of The Resistance Inside The Trump Administration." This bombshell article claimed that there were many people surrounding Trump who were actively working to restrain Trump's worst impulses. Since Trump governs by impulse alone, they've apparently had a lot of work to do. They would remove papers from Trump's desk so he'd forget whatever insane bugaboo he had just been ranting about, they would ignore his orders when they made no sense, and they were working behind the scenes to avoid one catastrophe after another instigated by a man who was so unstable that discussions had already been held over using the 25th Amendment to remove him from office -- by his own cabinet members.

It was a stunning act of betrayal to Trump, one that seems to have been unprecedented in American history. We still have no idea who the author was. But now that the last "adult in the room" (Jim Mattis) has announced his impending resignation, perhaps eventually we will learn who penned this extraordinary article. For now, he or she will remain nameless, but whomever the author was certainly deserves the Turncoat Of The Year award.


   Most Boring


This category always puts us to sleep, for obvious reasons. We got quite a few nominees here (Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, Theresa May) but we felt there was really only one man who absolutely defined boring all year long -- Vice President Mike Pence.

The culmination of his boredom-inducing year was, without doubt, his non-presence in that Oval Office meeting Trump held (on camera) with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. Pence didn't utter a single word, and as one waggish commenter pointed out, "powered down, to save energy."

Even when Pence does speak, it's about as exciting as watching paint dry. So for his complete lack of charisma, the Most Boring of the year was definitely the vice president.


   Most Charismatic

Many years, we are forced to defend our choice for Most Charismatic. This will be one of those years.

We see charisma as a neutral quality, not as a quality that can only be positive. The example we usually use is Rodney Dangerfield's character in Caddyshack. He was a boor and a jackass, but he stole every scene he was in due to the sheer power of his charisma. You couldn't look away. That's our definition of charisma, whether good or bad.

Which means that, just like last year, we have to give Most Charismatic to Donald Trump. Trump is a magnet for everyone's attention. The media can't look away. The public can't look away. His political opponents can't ignore him. One snarky tweet from him means at least 24 hours of television news coverage -- over and over again.

You can call him a master manipulator of the media, but we just see it as (incredibly negative) charisma. When Trump enters the scene, everyone stops paying attention to anyone else in the room. Sure, he's the human equivalent of a traffic accident that everyone's got to slow down to check out, but that doesn't stop us all from taking a look, does it?

We much prefer giving this award in a positive way. If we were to pick out a Democratic politician for Most Charismatic, it'd have to be either Beto O'Rourke or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, both of whom are mighty charismatic (in a good way) in their own right. But both also fall far short of the mesmerizing hold Donald Trump has over the political scene.

Which is why, even though we don't enjoy saying it, Donald Trump is once again the winner of the Most Charismatic award.


   Bummest Rap

There was a lot to choose from in this category, because so many people got a bum rap this year. Christine Blasey Ford. Fake news. Journalists being the "enemy of the people." George H. W. Bush was a loving and decent human being (counterargument: Willie Horton ad). Mueller's investigation is a "witch hunt" (it seems to have caught quite a number of witches, and counting...). All the grief Jeff Sessions had to put up with from his own boss. As we said, a lot to choose from.

Our runner-up in this category was a bum rap that was so far over the top as to be downright insane. When Elizabeth Warren took on the issue of her Native American ancestry head-on, most of the inside-the-Beltway crowd panned her video and her effort. The storyline was (and we are not making this up) that "Warren has all but disqualified herself from a presidential run" because of her video. Say what? Seriously? In the age of Trump, this was supposed to be absolutely disqualifying? In what universe? She got a bad rap from the entire punditocracy, which we just refused to buy into in any way, shape, or form.

But there was a much bigger bad rap, and it came on Election Day. The East Coast journalists all wanted a quick and easy storyline that they could wrap up in a bow before the West Coast voting was even over. They wanted to go to bed early, in other words. So they focused dramatically on a handful of House races and a few high-profile East Coast races. Unfortunately for Democrats, they lost several of these races that were under the media's spotlight. So very early on, the pundits all agreed that "the blue wave didn't happen." They all patted themselves on the back for this conclusion, and went home to bed.

But then a funny thing happened. As more and more races were called, Democrats starting winning more and more of them. House districts began flipping from GOP to Democratic blue. Governor's races were won, most notably in Wisconsin where Democrats finally ousted the hated Scott Walker. Democrats started winning races in the reddest of states -- even in Kansas. By the time California races got called, it was evident that the big blue wave had arrived, but it crested a lot slower than the pundits would have liked to see on Election Night. Indeed, many of the Democratic House victories weren't actually called for days. The blue wave may have started slow but in the end it lasted even longer than anyone expected. From Election Night onwards, Democrats picked up district after district, flipping many of them along the way.

As of today, Democrats have picked up 40 House seats (the district in North Carolina with all the election fraud from Republicans is still up in the air). It was their biggest midterm victory since Watergate. Democrats picked up Newt Gingrich's old district. They flipped every House seat from Orange County, California. In California, Democrats increased their lead by seven seats, meaning the next House will have 46 Democrats from the state and only seven Republicans. Turnout was enormous, rivaling even presidential years. Democrats won women voters by a jaw-dropping 17 points -- the biggest gap in the history of exit polling. Voters under 30 went for Democrats by 35 points. Obamacare's Medicaid expansion won in three state ballot initiatives -- in Idaho, Utah, and Nebraska. Marijuana legalization won the day in multiple states as well. Gerrymandering was thrown out in three states. Democrats gained control of both houses of the legislature and the governor's mansion in six states. They flipped numerous state legislative chambers, while Republicans only picked up one (in Alaska).

If that isn't a blue wave, what is (for Pete's sake)?

Even now, many pundits refuse to recognize that they were just flat-out wrong on Election Night. Because if that isn't a blue wave, then precisely what definition of "wave" are you using? "The blue wave didn't happen" was the Bummest Rap of the whole year.


   Fairest Rap

Last year we gave this award to "Trump lies." We could easily have done so again this year -- the fact-checkers at the Washington Post have kept a running tally, and last we checked Trump had surpassed uttering 6,000 lies while in office. That's a breathtaking amount, and the pace of his lies accelerated drastically during the campaign season. We even got a nomination for "Trump is a liar, an adulterer, and a tax-dodger" this year, all of which are true and all of which are thus a fair rap.

But instead, this year we're going with "Trump is a racist" instead. Because it is a fair rap indeed.

Trump began the year by telling a group of people that he didn't care about people from (as he charmingly put it) "shithole countries." This led to a nervous breakdown in all the television networks' censorship departments, because it was a direct quote from the president of the United States and therefore it had to be read on the evening news verbatim. Nothing like being a role model for children, eh? We certainly never expected to hear that word uttered on the PBS NewsHour in our lifetime, that's for sure.

Trump has always exhibited racist impulses, from his excoriation of the Central Park Five decades ago to questioning Barack Obama's birth certificate to his campaign announcement warning of Mexican "rapists." This year he built on that legacy, in many ways. He continued his attacks against African-American Democrats, African-American women in particular ("Maxine Waters has a very low I.Q."). He tweeted a conspiracy theory about whites being murdered in South African which delighted the white supremacist movement no end. A political appointee of Trump's in the Homeland Security Department had to be fired when his own white supremacist views came to light, but he was really only following Trump's lead. He wasn't the only one -- plenty of GOP candidates for office nationwide were exposed as serious racists of one ilk or another during the campaign. Towards the end, Trump actually embraced the term "nationalist" (while politely refraining from adding "white"), which sent another big signal to all the wannabe Nazis out there in the hinterlands.

But the clearest evidence of Trump's racism was the campaign strategy he adopted, much to the consternation of plenty of suburban-district Republicans (most of whom who go on to lose their bid to be re-elected). We've already covered the details, in the Most Defining Political Moment category, above, so there's no need to rehash it all again.

Donald Trump is a racist. At this point, this has entered into the realm of "undeniable fact." Which certainly means it qualifies for the Fairest Rap of the year.


   Best Comeback

Again, this one is obvious. Nancy Pelosi is about to achieve one of the biggest political comebacks in American history. It is very rare for a speaker of the House to regain the position after having to give it up. In fact, the last time it happened was when Sam Rayburn did it back in the 1950s. And no speaker in all of American history has done it after being out of power for eight years.

Pelosi defied all the odds. She didn't listen to those who wanted her to just quit politics when Democrats lost the chamber in the Tea Party year of 2010. She stuck around, she stuck to her guns, and she charted a path back to power. It took a long time to reach this goal, but it is now in sight.

She is now being spoken of as one of the strongest speakers of all time, in fact, even being placed above such luminaries as Tip O'Neill. That's impressive. She will be the face of the Democratic Party until the presidential nomination is sorted out in 2020. She will be the leader of the Resistance against Trump for two years. She will be in charge of the entire Democratic Party's platform, by what she chooses to focus on legislatively. And she will become just as big a worry for Trump as Bob Mueller, as the House committees are unleashed to investigate all of the Trumpian swamp.

That is a stunning comeback from the "shellacking" of 2010. She outlasted not one but two Republican speakers, both of whom had to eventually resign in disgrace after proving unable to corral their own caucus. All the while, Pelosi held Democrats together, preventing all sorts of bad legislation from moving forward.

Nancy Pelosi is, without any doubt, the winner of the Best Comeback award for 2018. And we can't wait to see her banging that gavel once again, personally.


   Most Original Thinker

Our inclination in this category is to just give the award to Bernie Sanders and move on. Bernie certainly qualifies, by introducing bills to achieve Medicare For All, a guaranteed job for anyone who wants one, and many other excellent (and forward-looking) ideas. Bernie singlehandedly (well, OK, with Ro Khanna's help in the House) got Jeff Bezos to raise worker pay at Amazon so that everyone who works there now makes $15 an hour. Bernie did this by introducing a bill which would have taxed giant corporations for any of their employees who had to resort to public assistance (food stamps, etc.). He named it the "Stop Bad Employers by Zeroing Out Subsidies Act," which was pretty amusing (when you read that middle bit as an acronym). This public shaming actually worked, which alone would have qualified Bernie for this year's award.

We also could have given the award to newcomer Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, for running as a Democratic Socialist and beating the man Nancy Pelosi was reportedly grooming to take over for her as speaker (the fourth-highest ranking Democrat in the House). Ocasio-Cortez has, so far, been nothing short of a breath of fresh air inside the Democratic Party, and we certainly expect this to continue for a long time to come.

But instead, we're going to give the Most Original Thinker award to Eric Holder and (to a lesser extent, from what we can see) Barack Obama. After both men left office, they decided to team up for a cause. The cause they picked isn't the sexiest political issue out there, but it is one of the most important for Democrats to be paying all kinds of attention to right about now. Holder has led the pushback against gerrymandering ever since. The group Holder leads, the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, is not one everyone instantly recognizes. But they've been doing important work nonetheless. They have been fighting gerrymandering on several fronts simultaneously -- suing in state courts to get blatant GOP gerrymandered maps overturned, putting referenda on state ballots to form independent commissions for redistricting (taking the task away from the politicians), and even rightly speaking out against Democratic efforts to gerrymander states that they control.

Holder's group has been steadfast in fighting the scourge of gerrymandering. They won a big victory in Pennsylvania which threw out the old GOP map and instituted a much fairer map which helped Democrats flip several House districts in the midterms. Several ballot initiatives also passed during this election cycle which will tie the hands of the politicians and instead turn the redistricting over to a nonpartisan group with clear goals to draw cohesive and sane districts.

This is all going to be a very big deal in 2021, after the 2020 Census. The House of Representatives only gets redistricted once a decade, so all of these reforms have to be in place before that happens again. In 2011, Democrats got hammered in state after state, which gave the Republicans a giant edge in keeping control of the House, all decade long. Nancy Pelosi had to overcome incredible odds to retake the House this year, which can be directly laid at the feet of Republican gerrymandering. Taking on such a wonky issue that doesn't generate many headlines simply because you feel it is the right thing to do is an impressive (and mostly thankless) task. Eric Holder deserves credit for doing so, and he certainly deserves the Most Original Thinker of the year for his successes so far.


   Most Stagnant Thinker

Um, the entire Republican Party and everything they stand for?

It'd be hard not to give the Most Stagnant Thinker award out every year in just such a generic fashion, especially now that Donald Trump has made it socially acceptable (among Republicans only) to indulge in the depths of racism, misogyny, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, and various other bigotries too numerous to mention. Republicans everywhere have been given a green light to just say what they really feel about women, minorities, gays, immigrants, and anyone else they don't approve of, all year long.

Don't believe me? Here's just one example out of many. Courtland Sykes ran for the GOP nomination to take on Senator Claire McCaskill in Missouri. He casually uses such terms as "Femimarxism," and helpfully explained his antediluvian attitudes towards women (this is just one of many such quotes from him, we should point out), speaking of his hopes for his future daughters:

I don't want them [to] grow up into career obsessed banshees who [forgo] home life and children and the happiness of family to become nail-biting manophobic hell-bent feminist she devils who shriek from the top of a thousand tall buildings.

That's the sort of swamp creature that has been bubbling up all over the country since Trump took over the Republican Party. No wonder they now have such problems convincing women to vote for them!

But instead of giving this award to a person, we're giving it to an idea, instead. Call it the "Most Stagnant Thought" award, if you will. Because the most stagnant idea in Washington -- as we see right this very moment, in fact -- is using the threat of a government shutdown as political leverage.

This tactic was (we believe) introduced by none other than Newt Gingrich and continues to the present day (midnight tonight, in fact, unless there have been developments since we started writing this). And here's the thing: it never works. It never produces the desired result legislatively, and it almost always backfires on the political party that instigates such a drastic tactic. It is, plain and simple, nothing more than hostage-taking on a grand scale. "If you don't give me what I want, I will shut the government down until you do" is rightly seen by the public at large as a tantrum worthy of a two-year-old.

Government shutdowns (and their even-worse cousin, threatening to default on the national debt) should now be seen as nothing short of political suicide. They don't work, they turn the public away from your cause, and they cost the country economically every time they happen. So Most Stagnant Thought of the year is what we're all about to experience, once again. We can't even say "government shutdowns have outlived their usefulness," because they never had any usefulness in the first place. They just don't work. Sooner or later, politicians are going to realize this once and for all. One would like to hope, at any rate.


   Best Photo Op

There were all kinds of great photo ops to choose from this year, our favorite probably being seeing Tammy Duckworth bring her newborn onto the floor of the Senate for a vote. Duckworth is the first U.S. senator to ever give birth while in office, it bears mentioning. So bringing a tiny baby onto the floor was absolutely unprecedented. She dressed her child in a onesie with duckies on it (Duckworth... get it?), and due to Senate rules had to also dress the baby in a "blazer" (a tiny baby jacket) so she wouldn't be breaking Senate rules. The whole thing was downright adorable!

This wasn't the only baby photo in the running for Best Photo Op, because there was also the giant Trump Baby Blimp in London -- that was a photo op for the ages, too (albeit in a different way).

The other silly entry for this category came from the Crimea, where Vladimir Putin went to open a bridge he had built in record time from Russia to the Crimea, and so he could be the first to cross the bridge. Alas, he was upstaged by Mostik the cat, who had become the construction workers' mascot of sorts, and who got to cross first in a tiny safety vest and a cat-sized hardhat. Priceless!

But getting back to politics, we had many other photo ops to choose from, including a pastor who reacted to the Trump family separation policy at the border by putting his nativity scene out in front of his church, in a chain-link cage. That picture was certainly worth 1,000 words. In the same vein (although cruder), a schoolgirl flipped a Republican congressman the bird in a photobomb (her mother was not amused, it's worth mentioning).

But more seriously, we really had four finalists for Best Photo Op. The first was from multiple states, from West Virginia to Arizona, where the teachers got so fed up with Republican budget-cutting (on their backs, of course) that they went on strike and besieged the state capital.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez really had two entries in this category -- her very well-produced web ad which introduced her to the voters, and the stunned amazement caught on her face by a rolling camera when her primary victory was announced. Such raw emotion -- and such abject authenticity -- is rare in the political world.

The Trump Oval Office meeting with Pelosi and Schumer just a few weeks ago certainly also was in the running, especially since it was Trump who insisted the cameras remain while the Democrats discreetly suggested that he might not want to be embarrassed by them with the whole world watching.

But, to us, the one photo that needed no words nor explanation to make a very profound point came during the Washington funeral service for former president George H. W. Bush. All the ex-presidents were there, although George W. Bush didn't sit with the others (for obvious reasons, he was with his family). And the photo of Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter (to say nothing of Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton, who were almost as impactful visually, to give credit where it is due) sitting next to Donald Trump and Melania spoke volumes. There, for the world to see, was what dignified and presidential men look like at a solemn ceremony -- in contrast to Trump, who looked like a petulant child for even having to attend. It instantly reminded everyone of how America used to be so much better than the past two years.

For visual impact and speaking volumes, the photo of the Carter, Clinton, and Obama next to Donald Trump was easily the Best Photo Op of the year.


   Worst Photo Op

Once again, there were plenty of nominees to choose from. Like that time when Trump couldn't remember the words to the National Anthem. Or that time when he forgot the words to "God Bless America." Or (the worst in this particular subcategory) when Trump joined some small children to color in an image of the U.S. flag and he used the wrong colors. Just imagine what Fox News would have said (for months on end) if a Democratic president had done such a boneheaded thing.

There were metaphors that became literal during the year, like the time immediately after the State Of The Union speech when all the congressional Republicans took a train to a party retreat and the train crashed into a garbage truck. That was pretty bad, from any viewpoint.

Speaking of trainwrecks, there were the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings. 'Nuff said about that.

Speaking of trainwrecks (part 2), there was that time when Kanye West met with Trump in the Oval Office and was so much crazier than Trump that it actually left Trump speechless.

Speaking of trainwrecks (part 3), there was that time when Trump refused to let the cameras leave a meeting with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, where they then proceeded to eat Trump's lunch, right in his face.

There were three photo ops that were noticeable in their absence, any of which could have qualified for Worst Photo Op anyway: The fact that Donald Trump has not visited the troops in a war zone in two whole years. The military parade that Trump wanted to hold in D.C. because he loved the idea of rolling some tanks through the streets (Trump had to ditch this idea when the Pentagon announced it would cost a staggering $93 million to stage). And then when Trump responded to the lack of a military parade at home by flying to France (where they know how to put on a military parade, Trump figured) and then Trump refused to go visit the Belleau Wood cemetery because it was lightly raining. We could have made a good case for Worst Photo Op of the year for all of these -- even though the photo ops never actually happened.

There were two "Trump on the world stage" photo ops which were just downright stunning which we have to give runners-up awards to. The first was Trump's press conference after meeting with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. Trump's performance was so bizarre and servile to Putin that even rightwing commentators said it bordered on the treasonous. Ronald Reagan must be spinning in his grave, many noted.

The second was Trump meeting Kim Jong Un, who also played Trump like a fiddle. The worst photo op from the meeting was Trump saluting a North Korean general, for no apparent reason other than Trump didn't understand the propaganda value of him doing so. Speaking of propaganda, when Trump faced the press after the meeting, his appearance was prefaced by a propaganda video played for the gathered journalists that everyone initially thought (there was no introduction to the video to clarify it) had been produced by the North Koreans -- but instead turned out to be nothing short of a Trumpian propaganda film that (you just can't make this stuff up) tried to sell the North Koreans on what good real estate deals they could make if they changed their ways.

Those were both pretty bad. But there were two that were even worse, which is why we have to hand out two Worst Photo Op awards this year. The first goes to Donald Trump, for his speech to the United Nations general assembly. Trump, as he is wont to do, made some laughably idiotic (and factually inaccurate) statements to the world's leaders, and they responded by openly laughing at him. That's right -- it was Trump's worst nightmare come to life. Trump quite literally became the U.S. president who became the laughingstock of the world -- a feat never before achieved, to our knowledge. It was so bad that it certainly deserved Worst Photo Op of the year.

But our second award is even worse, in some respects. Because First Lady Melania Trump absolutely took the cake (the same cake Marie Antoinette suggested the peasants eat, of course) when she decided to fly down to see the children her husband had had locked up in cages after being forcibly separated from their mothers and fathers. Melania was supposed to be showing a "more human" side to the inhuman policy of her husband, which she might have actually been able to make some progress on -- if she had made a different wardrobe decision, that is.

Instead, Melania boarded the airplane for her mission of mercy wearing a stylish coat with the kicky "aren't I cute, what a bad attitude I have" saying painted on the back: "I REALLY DON'T CARE. DO U?" Once again, this is a trip where Melania is trying to counter the image that her husband doesn't care about children in cages, by showing a tiny shred of compassion. That was the plan, at any rate. But then she decided to make a fashion statement, which totally obliterated her goal for making the trip in the first place.

That coat was, easily, the Worst Photo Op of the year. Perhaps "of the decade," in fact. Melania showed her true colors on her jacket, proving she could be just as inhumane as the man she married.


   Enough Already!

As usual, this is a multiple-award category.

Paul Ryan -- Enough already!

Brett Kavanaugh -- Enough already!

Bump stocks -- Enough already!

Michael Avenatti -- Enough already!

Smocking guns -- Enough already!

Gerrymandering -- Enough already!

California's top-two jungle primary -- Enough already!

Democratic superdelegates putting their thumbs on the scale early -- Enough already!

The Mooch -- Enough already!

The border wall that's never going to get built, that Mexico is never going to pay for -- Enough already!

Government shutdowns -- Enough already!

Facebook and other tech companies selling everyone's personal information for profit -- Enough already!

Be Best! -- Enough already!

Melania Trump -- Enough already!

Donald Trump's lies -- Enough already!

Donald Trump's tweets -- Enough already!

Donald Trump -- Enough already!


   Worst Lie

With Trump, there is an endless list of nominees for the Worst Lie category, because he continually outdoes his own efforts in this regard, on a weekly basis. The Washington Post recently had to create a new fact-checking category just to handle the overload. They've got a scale of zero-to-four "Pinocchios" that they award to lies uttered in politics, but giving Trump four-Pinocchio ratings out the wazoo didn't seem to be doing any good, so they just unveiled the "Bottomless Pinocchio" category, for any lie told by a politician on a regular basis, even when confronted with the actual facts and truth of the matter. Politicians have to have told the lie more than 20 times to even qualify. So far, the only one on the already-extensive list is Donald Trump, which should surprise exactly no one.

So there was a lot to choose from. The caravan is invading America. North Korea is no longer a nuclear threat. "Drain the swamp." Trump saying he was helpless to stop the family separation policy that he himself instituted, and then stopping it when the political heat became too much. Our favorite was when Trump swore that "thousands" of Korean War M.I.A. soldiers' parents "begged him" to "bring their sons home" (Korean War soldier parents would be over 100 years old today). Another amusing one was the whole "10 percent middle-class tax cut" which was going to pass Congress "before the end of October" -- but which existed only in Trump's deranged mind.

Less amusing and more frightening was Trump's entire press conference next to Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, where he sounded like a wholly-owned tool of the Russians, even stating that he had no idea why the Russians would even want to attack an American election. He later tried to walk this back, stating that he had mixed up the difference between "would" and "wouldn't," which precisely nobody believed for a New York moment.

But all of these lies -- even that last one -- paled in comparison to one evil lie Trump has been telling his supporters in various forms from the very beginning. This year it came out in full force: "The media is the enemy of the people." This sentiment was universally condemned, and many pointed out that the tactic of declaring anyone the "enemy of the people" went back to Joseph Stalin, and that declaring the media in particular an "enemy of the people" was a tactic used by Adolf Hitler. It is a totalitarian concept, plain and simple. It was so frightening that over 350 news organizations, in a coordinated move, published editorials stating plainly that they were not enemies of the people, and that in fact making such an irresponsible statement was more anti-American than any perceived slight to Trump himself.

Later in the year, Trump essentially shrugged his shoulders when a Saudi Arabian prince had a Washington Post journalist murdered and dismembered for his opinions. That is the real danger of such statements, because strongmen the world over will see it as a big green light to suppress (and even murder) their own pesky journalists.

Naming anyone who has not been proved to have committed treason against the United States in time of war "the enemy of the people" is just wrong, and it is a gigantic and insidious lie. For the president of the United States to do so (rather than some tin-foil-hatted rightwing demagogue) is unacceptable in the extreme. While there were plenty of other lies to choose from in this category, since Trump lies approximately every time his lips are moving, none were even in the same league as this one. It was, clearly, the Worst Lie of the year.


   Capitalist Of The Year

In a surprise move, we are awarding marijuana the Capitalist Of The Year award. Yep, weed beat Wall Street! Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

When 2018 dawned, it was indeed a new day in California, as the biggest legal recreational weed market sprang into existence. There are (obviously) no yearly numbers on the size of this marketplace yet, but it is expected to be "in the billions of dollars." Later in the year, Canada became the largest country in the world to legalize recreational marijuana for all adults, which also will likely rack up billions of dollars in sales. Massachusetts opened the first legal recreational weed store east of the Mississippi River, but other states won't be far behind. Michigan legalized recreational weed in a referendum, and Utah (Utah!) even legalized medical marijuana the same way. Earlier, Oklahoma did so as well, prompting a late-night comic to coin the term "Tokelahoma."

Very early in the year, we wrote an article predicting that the tipping point had been reached on the whole legalization movement. It would now be unthinkable to move backwards, and the gains legalization has been racking up will eventually become so overwhelming that even national politicians are going to have to recognize the new reality. Nothing confirms this theory more than the following fact: Former Speaker of the House John Boehner is now a marijuana industry lobbyist. It was announced this year that Mount Vernon was returning to the roots that George Washington laid down and would be growing hemp once again. Can't get much more all-American than that! The farm bill that Trump just signed will legalize hemp growing nationwide, meaning farmers will have access to banks and crop insurance. The tipping point is in our rear-view mirror, folks.

As with all successful capitalist endeavors, the marijuana industry is growing in its political influence. Boehner's not the only weed lobbyist out there, merely the most prominent name. Any multibillion-dollar industry forms lobbying groups to contact politicians, and weed is no different. Remember all those "Got milk?" and dancing raisins ads? They were produced by milk and raisin growing lobbying groups in California. Perhaps in future the weed industry will try a similar tactic? It wouldn't surprise us, at this point.

Weed is now big business, whether the hippies like that concept or not. Weed makes a ton of money, and is providing a ton of tax revenue to boot. That is capitalism, folks, which is why we have to award the Capitalist Of The Year award to marijuana and the fledgling legal weed industry.


   Honorable Mention

This is a catchall category for everyone worth mentioning that didn't precisely fit into any of the other award categories.

This year, we've decided to add a subcategory, to begin with, of funny moments throughout the year that didn't quite fit anywhere else. So here are our Honorable Mentions (Humor Division) for the year:

Fox News inadvertently stating the truth, on Fox And Friends, when Donald Trump exited Air Force One in Singapore for his meeting with Kim Jong Un: "This is history. Regardless of what happens in that meeting between the two dictators, what we are seeing right now -- this is history." Um, how many dictators was that? Heh.

The Atlantic for tweeting out a sports comment: "Excited for the World Cup opener between Russia and Saudi Arabia. It's a crucial game; the winner gets to run U.S. foreign policy."

We couldn't resist getting in on the fun, as we had two notable headlines in our continuing "Friday Talking Points" column series. The first came about the week Scott Pruitt left the E.P.A. in disgrace, when the Trump Administration announced it was considering a piece of legislation named the "United States Fair And Reciprocal Trade Act." So, naturally, we went with the headline: "FART Act, Pruitt Out." Being sophomoric is a tough job, but somebody's got to do it, right?

Our other notable headline was not our own, though, as it came from a sign held at a protest in London (while Trump was visiting). The British are pretty good at being witty in general, but this was an absolute gem: "Super Callous Fragile Ego Trump You Are Atrocious."

And finally, for no real political reason but because the photo is just hilarious, we have to mention the prankster in Savannah, Georgia who snuck in to a park in the middle of the night and (gasp!) put googly eyes on a statue of Nathaniel Greene. One wag responded on Twitter: "Who is Nathaniel Greene? Never mind. I'll Googly him." Oh, well done!

Snarky humor aside, though, let's get to the main section of this category, so we can hand out Honorable Mentions to those who deserve recognition.

We'd like to start by honoring the Tea Partiers, especially those in the House. No -- really! If it hadn't been for the knee-jerk obstructionism and for their never settling for half (or even nine-tenths) of a loaf so they could remain pure, then the Republican agenda might have advanced a whole lot further than it did for the last eight years (and the last two in particular). Time and time again, John Boehner (at first) and Paul Ryan (later on) proved incapable of convincing the Tea Partiers to vote for GOP priorities. So I'd just like to say thanks, now that Democrats have taken back the House. Your bullheaded obstructionism turned out to be a very good thing for Democrats, in the end.

More seriously, we'd like to honor President Trump here at the end of the year, for both following through on a ban on bump stocks (and, surprisingly, one with real teeth to it), and for signing the criminal justice reform bill this week. Both are solidly within the Democratic wheelhouse, so we have no idea how they happened, but we'd sincerely like to thank Trump for his actions. Credit where it's due, after all.

The George H. W. Bush funeral certainly reminded everyone of what civility in Washington is supposed to look like, even if there was significant whitewashing of Bush's actual political record. Hey, we can get along with a little of the old de mortuis nil nisi bonum, right? But every stage of his funeral procession (including a historical throwback -- a funeral train with viewing windows) was dignified and respectful. So thanks for reminding us all what that's supposed to look like.

Over on the Democratic side, we have to honor Andrew Gillum, Beto O'Rourke, Randy "Iron 'Stache" Bryce, and Stacey Abrams, all of whom fell short in the end but ran inspiring and uplifting campaigns in some very crucial states.

Charles Schumer for writing a bill smacking Trump down after his jaw-dropping meeting and press conference with Vladimir Putin, which passed the Senate 98-0.

Heidi Heitkamp voting against Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation, even though it wasn't the deciding vote and was incredibly risky for her to do in her home state (she lost her re-election race), but because she felt it was the right thing to do.

And finally, our final Honorable Mention goes to John Boehner, for becoming a weed lobbyist. Far out, man!


   Person Of The Year

This is going to be a repeat award, since we gave it to the same person last year as well.

The Person Of The Year award for 2018 goes to none other than Special Counsel Robert Mueller. This is rather extraordinary when you think about it, because unlike just about every other person in Washington, Mueller has given zero media interviews, has given zero public announcements or press releases, and in general does an exemplary job of completely and utterly ignoring public opinion and the media altogether. Who else can you say that about in the world of politics? Also to his credit, his investigation is the tightest that Washington has ever seen, and to date has not leaked one single tidbit to the media. Again, that is a claim that few other such investigators could ever have made. All we get in the media is endless speculation and endless guesswork about what Mueller is up to, because there simply are no hard facts available beyond what is presented in open courtrooms for journalists to mull over (OK, apologies for that pun...).

Mueller, very quietly, has been doing what he was tasked with doing, and he will not be rushed or conform to anyone else's timetable. But even though he refuses to speak at all to the media or the public (we don't even know what his voice sounds like, because we've never actually heard him speak on the airwaves, for instance), he has been the most influential person in Washington nonetheless.

Donald Trump has Mueller's investigation hanging over him like the sword of Damocles. He knows that at any time the sword could fall and impale him, and he freaks out on a regular basis about this possibility. His administration has been under a black cloud for over a year and a half now, and Mueller has been flipping and convicting more Trump confidants than you can shake a stick at. Trump keeps insisting it's nothing short of a "witch hunt" but so far they've been pretty successful and Mueller's team has not suffered a single courtroom setback yet.

The fear has always been that Trump will try to further obstruct justice by somehow firing Mueller, but at this point even that wouldn't slow the investigation down much, if at all. Even if all the endless speculation about Mueller being fired eventually comes true, the investigation has progressed to such a point that it now has to be seen as unstoppable. With Democrats in charge of the House, if Mueller ever were fired, they would immediately move to seize all his records so Trump couldn't have them destroyed. There are already several other federal prosecutors involved with the investigation (in New York, in D.C., and in Virginia), so even getting rid of Mueller wouldn't end things for Trump.

For having such an outsized presence on the political scene -- and for doing so without granting a single interview and without leaking a single leak to a reporter -- Bob Mueller is really the only choice we see possible for Person Of The Year. In fact, he will likely be in the running for the same award next year as well, if he wraps his investigation up and issues his report.


[See you next Friday, for the conclusion of our 2018 awards!]


If you're interested in traveling down Memory Lane, here are all the previous years of this awards column:

2017 -- [Part 1] [Part 2]
2016 -- [Part 1] [Part 2]
2015 -- [Part 1] [Part 2]
2014 -- [Part 1] [Part 2]
2013 -- [Part 1] [Part 2]
2012 -- [Part 1] [Part 2]
2011 -- [Part 1] [Part 2]
2010 -- [Part 1] [Part 2]
2009 -- [Part 1] [Part 2]
2008 -- [Part 1] [Part 2]
2007 -- [Part 1] [Part 2]
2006 -- [Part 1] [Part 2]


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

Cross-posted at: Democratic Underground


11 Comments on “My 2018 "McLaughlin Awards" [Part 1]”

  1. [1] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    I'm pleased to announce that a few donations have been coming in the past few days, so I've updated the thermometer bar again. We're getting closer to reaching our yearly goal! Woo hoo!



  2. [2] 
    italyrusty wrote:

    Thank you, Chris, for this thoughtful, highly-readable, and occasionally laugh-out-loud funny column. Your winners (or losers) were spot-on.

    It took me almost an hour to read this - I paused to laugh quite a few times - and it must have taken you days to write. Congratulations on the creation of a political masterpiece.

    And thank you for helping me make it through these last two dark years. I'm holding my breath that nothing (literally) earth-shattering happens before January 3.

  3. [3] 
    italyrusty wrote:

    Now comments with more specificity.

    * Why did you include CA's "jungle primary" in the 'Enough already' list? To the "outside world", it is supposed to rein in extremes' on both ends of the political spectrum. And I haven't read anything about election chaos or fraud in its execution in 2018.

    * I am perhaps woefully ignorant, but I've always understood the inclusion of hemp as a 'controlled substance' in the war on marijuana to be a great injustice - not least to the "family farms" the Republican Party use as political prop. I thought it was because the two plants are too similar in the field to be distinguished. Thus, the 'weed police' were 'compelled' to ban both, since allowing hemp to grow while wreaking havoc on pot pastures would be impossible (and would no doubt have inflamed the hemp farmers - pun intended).
    Yes, the 2018 farm bill's repeal of the hemp ban is laudable,and the public reminded over and over of how unjust the ban has been. But aren't you repeating the sin by including hemp in the 'capitalist of the year'?
    * Thanks for the asides that clarify puns and goofs that I hadn't caught the first time ('two dictators', for example).

  4. [4] 
    nypoet22 wrote:


    small bone to pick with best photo op - there's a link to every runner-up, but as far as i can tell no link to the winner!


  5. [5] 
    neilm wrote:

    Well, I had to read this through twice, then once again just hitting the highlights.

    What a column. Thanks CW!

    I didn't put the effort in to make my own suggestions this year - really overwhelmed with life, etc., but I'd, frankly, probably have embarrassed myself.

    I don't feel bad about that, because the sheer number of unusual things that have happened this year is astronomical. Who, but an expert such as CW, could keep up with all of this.

  6. [6] 
    TheStig wrote:

    I'm with neilm. CW, how do you find the time? Very impressive column! Maybe you're going to need a part 3 this year....and some new catagories. Who knows what bombshell is going to drop next. Looking forward to all the merriement that will come with the new, and hopefully improved House O' with activated supoena power!

  7. [7] 
    Kick wrote:

    CW: Totally awesome column! :)

  8. [8] 
    Kick wrote:


    small bone to pick with best photo op - there's a link to every runner-up, but as far as i can tell no link to the winner!

    *cue music*
    One of these things is not like the others
    One of these things just doesn't belong
    Can you tell which thing is not like the others
    By the time I finish my song?


  9. [9] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    Kudos on this one. Very enjoyable. I find it absolutely amazing that no one seems to find the Trump Shutdown all that terrible. Maybe the fact that the lights eventually are turned back on takes a bit of the drama away...

  10. [10] 
    John M wrote:

    [10] Balthasar

    "Kudos on this one. Very enjoyable. I find it absolutely amazing that no one seems to find the Trump Shutdown all that terrible. Maybe the fact that the lights eventually are turned back on takes a bit of the drama away..."

    That's probably because:

    1) It's only affecting 1/4 of the government instead of all of it.

    2) Most of the shutdown actually won't take effect until after the official government Christmas holiday is over.

    3) Some state government is actually taking up a little of the slack, like New York providing funding to keep monuments like the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island open.

  11. [11] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    strange that michael flynn's sentencing should be delayed now, just as his mission for the turkish government finally bears fruit.


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