My 2023 "McLaughlin Awards" [Part 2]

[ Posted Friday, December 29th, 2023 – 19:20 UTC ]

Welcome back to the second of our year-end awards columns! And if you missed it last Friday, go check out [Part 1] as well.

As always, we must begin with a warning for all readers. It's long. Really, really long. Horrendously long. Insanely long. It takes a lot of stamina to read all the way to the end. You have been duly warned! But because it is so long, we certainly don't want to add any more here at the start, so let's just dive in, shall we?


   Destined For Political Stardom

We had intended to give, almost by default, the Destined For Political Stardom award this year to Gavin Newsom, California's peripatetic governor. We use that odd word (which we learned from reading Calvin And Hobbes, we should admit) since Newsom has been here, there, and everywhere this year while making little actual news as the governor of the most populous state in the country. He even finished the year up debating a Republican candidate for president, which was decidedly odd for a Democrat who is not himself in the running for the job.

Newsom, however, is running a not-so-secret shadow campaign for either the 2028 Democratic presidential nomination (never too early to start, eh?) or perhaps as a "Plan B" for the party, should any misfortune befall President Joe Biden next year. The first part of that is pretty openly talked about, but the second part is not (since nobody wants to see Biden incapacitated during the campaign).

But we decided Newsom's already a political star on the national stage, so giving him the award would be somewhat superfluous. Instead, we are going to agree with the nomination from reader andygaus and give Destined For Political Stardom to House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries.

Jeffries had some mighty big shoes to fill, in the House Democratic caucus. He is stepping into leading the party after Nancy Pelosi stepped down from her leadership position. And Pelosi has already gone down in House history as one of the most productive and powerful speakers ever. She did what nobody thought was possible before she appeared on the scene -- she successfully herded the Democratic cats. She kept her caucus together, when it had previously been known for splintering into factions and joining with Republicans for all sorts of bad votes.

Jeffries, of course, won't be fully tested in his leadership until the Democrats regain control of the House again and he gets to step up to the speaker's chair. But even in the minority, Jeffries has been doing a good job in continuing the strong leadership Pelosi brought to the caucus. Democrats have stuck together, in crucial situations where the defection of just a handful of them might have brought on a very different result.

To us, though, Jeffries cemented his rising-star status in his first notable speech as Democratic leader. When Kevin McCarthy was finally elected speaker, after 15 gruelling floor votes, tradition demanded that Jeffries give a speech introducing the new speaker. In it, he drew the starkest contrast between the two parties we have ever heard. And he did it in rare style, too. It's pretty easy to spot the motif he picked out for his litany:

We will never compromise our principles. House Democrats will always put American values over autocracy. Benevolence over bigotry. The Constitution over the cult. Democracy over demagogues. Economic opportunity over extremism. Freedom over fascism. Governing over gaslighting. Hopefulness over hatred. Inclusion over isolation. Justice over judicial overreach. Knowledge over kangaroo courts. Liberty over limitation. Maturity over Mar-a-Lago. Normalcy over negativity. Opportunity over obstruction. People over politics. Quality-of-life issues over QAnon. Reason over racism. Substance over slander. Triumph over tyranny. Understanding over ugliness. Voting rights over voter suppression. Working families over the well-connected. Xenial over xenophobia. "Yes, we can" over "You can't do it," and zealous representation over zero-sum confrontation.

This will forever be known as "the alphabet speech," and (as we noted at the time) we had to look up "xenial" to see what it meant ("hospitality to guests"). Jeffries delivered this speech without referring to notes or a TelePrompTer, which makes it even more impressive. He also had a rhetorical flourish for Pelosi, extolling her for being "a legendary legislator, a fabulous facilitator, and a no-nonsense negotiator."

Lyrical oratory is one thing, but holding Democrats together is quite another. As we said, the real test of this will come when Jeffries becomes speaker (since Democrats aren't going to put on a clown show when this does come to pass, they will in orderly fashion elect their current leader to the speakership). But hopefully that test is coming soon. And when it does, we fully expect Hakeem Jeffries to live up to the Destined For Political Stardom award he won this year.


   Destined For Political Oblivion

There are a whole lot of nominees in this category that we sincerely hope will fade into political oblivion: Ron DeSantis, Rudy Giuliani, Lauren Boebert, Marjorie Taylor Greene, George Santos, and (from the Democratic side of things) Bob Menendez.

But we have two Republicans who seem a lock for fading into political oblivion: Kevin McCarthy and Mike Pence.

McCarthy at first seemed to be OK with remaining in the House of Representatives after being the first speaker in American history to be unceremoniously chucked out of his leadership role by members of his own party, but then after living as a backbencher for a few months, he changed his mind. McCarthy had a dramatic trajectory all year, politically speaking, clawing his way to the speakership (but only on the 15th floor vote) and trying to keep all his various GOP factions from splintering into open revolt, but in the end he only lasted about nine months. By year's end, he had decided to step down from his House seat altogether. We sincerely hope he doesn't have any sort of second act in politics, beyond possibly appearing on cable news shows in the future.

For Mike Pence, there's no question at all. Stick a fork in him, he is done. He's not even going to be invited onto cable news, because absolutely nobody wants to hear what he has to say about anything. Pence was vice president, deluded himself into thinking he could somehow win the GOP nomination and become president, but in the end proved to both himself and the country that he was completely irrelevant. Pence isn't just Destined For Political Oblivion... he's already there.


   Best Political Theater

There were a number of excellent vignettes of political theater this year to choose from, we are happy to report. That alphabet speech from Hakeem Jeffries, for one.

Joe Biden had a few memorable bits of what might be called political theater, but were more properly considered photo ops -- walking a picket line with the U.A.W., and travelling to two war zones (Ukraine and Israel) as a sitting president.

Hunter Biden showing up at the Capitol on the day he was supposed to testify to the Tinfoil Hat Committee in the House, but instead protesting the fact that the hearing would have been closed to the public by refusing to appear and instead giving a press conference in front of the Capitol was all pretty damn good political theater, in our opinion.

Patrick McHenry, as acting speaker of the House, unleashing a gavel-bang that Thor The Mighty would have approved of was an interesting bit during the whole Hunger Games political theater of the Republican speakers' battles. This was right after Kevin McCarthy was officially ousted as speaker, and McHenry immediately adjourned the House afterwards -- by letting loose with the loudest slam of the gavel anyone has ever heard.

But two bits of political theater stood out, for us. The first was very personal and directed. Marjorie Taylor Greene tried a political stunt, calling for a Democrat to be censured for supposedly saying antisemitic things. Now, it is downright laughable that M.T.G. would ever try to inhabit any sort of moral high road, for any reason whatsoever, since her own history is pretty vile. Which we all needed reminding of, when she was attempting a sort of "holier-than-thou" stance. So Representative Becca Balint stepped up to the plate to do so, in spectacular fashion. And then she absolutely knocked it out of the park.

Balint introduced her own censure motion, which took Marjorie Taylor Greene to task for each and every vile, hateful, bigoted thing she has said. She read the bill in full to the House floor, with barely-suppressed contempt and rage. Chronicling M.T.G.'s odiousness in such detail takes over eleven minutes of citations, but we still feel it is worth your time to watch it in full, if just to know the depths of M.T.G.'s mental shortcomings. It is a virtuoso performance by Balint, and we almost gave it the Best Political Theater award just on the sheer power of her disdain.

But instead we had to look at the bigger picture. The Best Political Theater happened at the very start of the year, during President Joe Biden's "State Of The Union" speech. In one ad-libbed rhetorical moment, Joe Biden achieved a previously-impossible feat. He got Republicans to disavow a crusade they've been fighting for decades, in the most public way imaginable. Here's what we had to say about it right after it happened:

Biden performed the most spectacular trolling of Republicans I have ever witnessed, in fact. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called it a successful "rope-a-dope" strategy, which metaphorically works too. Biden seemingly did the impossible by getting Republicans -- all of them, from the sound of it -- to fervently cheer the idea of protecting Social Security and Medicare from any budget cuts. This has long been a core Democratic goal, although some Democrats have occasionally wavered in the face of Republican demands to gut the safety net for retirees and seniors (see: Barack Obama's proffered "Grand Bargain," for just one example).

But there it was -- Joe Biden achieved the impossible and got them all cheering right alongside the Democrats in favor of not slashing the funding for either program. Biden then cheerfully spiked the football in unprecedented fashion: "Social Security and its bookend, Medicare, are off the books now, right? We have unanimity!" Most presidents don't get moments like this in their annual speech to Congress and the nation, and without doubt this will be the one part of Biden's speech that everyone is going to remember for a very long time to come.

The Republicans really didn't even know what hit them. It wasn't planned, exactly, it was one of those spontaneous things, in the midst of a very structured speech. Biden rolled with it perfectly, and since then there has been zero talk from their side about cutting Social Security and Medicare all year long. That is a stupendous feat, and it is why Biden's "State Of The Union" speech moment was the Best Political Theater of the year.


   Worst Political Theater

This was a category jam-packed with possible winners this year, sad to say. The most obvious of which was the continuing game of "Who Wants To Be Speaker Of The House?" which took up an enormous amount of time and energy and in the end, signified nothing.

The Republican candidates for president (who were not named "Donald Trump") spent all year long replaying the primary race from 2015. They split the opposition to Trump, most of them wouldn't even attack Trump at all (in the hopes of wooing his MAGA base away from him) and in general wasted everyone's time.

The "Tinfoil Hat Committee" in Congress (as well as a few other committees in supporting roles) put on the worst political theater imaginable, desperately trying to uncover some sort of proof that Joe Biden was the capo of the "Biden Crime Family," to no avail. Jim Jordan, in particular, was incredibly obnoxious (as is his wont). By year's end, they had launched an official impeachment inquiry, despite not even being able to identify what crime Biden was even being accused of.

Democrat Jamaal Bowman added a little bad theater of his own by pulling a fire alarm in a bid to buy time for Democrats to read a bill Kevin McCarthy dumped on them at the last minute, which was just embarrassing.

Of course, we could go literal here and say that Lauren Boebert's trip to the theater to see Beetlejuice -- complete with vaping and some high-school-level sexual groping between her and her date -- was the worst political thing that happened inside a theater this year.

Our runner-up here was Donald Trump's four motorcades -- covered breathlessly from beginning to end by the media -- as he turned himself in, every time he got indicted this year. That was some pretty bad political theater all around, you've got to admit.

But just for the national-security impact alone, we have to give Worst Political Theater to Senator Tommy Tuberville (who has never worn the uniform of this country) for blocking over 400 high-ranking Pentagon promotions all year long, in protest of a policy that allows female servicemembers time off and travel arrangements if they need an abortion but are stationed in a U.S. state that doesn't provide them.

Tuberville launched this protest on his own. He was not supported by any of the other Republicans in the Senate. And everyone eventually got so annoyed with him that his own party spent hours in a Senate floor session trying to shame Tuberville into allowing the promotions -- of officers who had nothing to do with instituting the policy -- to go forward. Finally, by year's end, Republicans were about to join with Democrats to just override the parliamentary hold Tuberville had and just move forward anyway, when Tuberville finally relented and allowed all the promotions to go forward in one comprehensive vote.

He achieved nothing, politically. But he did make life unbearable for a whole bunch of military officers (and their commands) for almost the entire year, which negatively impacted this country's military readiness. Which is why we had to deem it the Worst Political Theater of the year.


   Worst Political Scandal

Cocaine found at the White House? Commander biting Secret Service agents?

Well... no.

We have two awards here, one suggested by reader andygaus and one that we felt was glaringly obvious. The first was Clarence Thomas's corruption, which was revealed in drip-drip-drip fashion for months. We still probably haven't heard all the details, since Thomas didn't seem to have the slightest shred of judicial ethics whatsoever. He thought he was entitled to live a sumptuous and luxurious life and saw his salary as too meager to provide it. So he accepted any and all "gifts" from wealthy Republican donors to live beyond his means. He personally forced the rest of the Supreme Court into agreeing to a formal code of ethics for the first time in their history (which is woefully inadequate, but better than the "nothing" that preceded it). And, because of his lifetime appointment, Thomas will continue to be seated on the high court even after all his sleaziness was exposed to the public.

The glaringly obvious one was "all of Donald Trump's legal woes." The 91 felony charges lodged against him. The first criminal indictments of a former U.S. president in history. All of the arraignments (and the circuslike atmosphere of all of them). All of his nastiness which necessitated gag orders on what he can say about prosecutors and courtroom officials. All of his appeals, which can basically be summed up as: "I am allowed to do anything I want, and I am immune from ever having to face the music for any of it, illegal or not."

Add into this all his civil cases -- which included being found liable for rape and will likely (next month) include being found liable for massive business fraud as well.

It became almost impossible to keep track of all of Trump's legal problems -- you need a scorecard just to keep up with the developments in all the cases. Which is why (for the sheer volume) we have to say that Donald Trump is the absolute walking, talking personification of the Worst Political Scandal of the year.


   Most Underreported Story

The fact that everything the Republicans are accusing Hunter Biden and the entire Biden family of was done 1,000 times worse by Ivanka, Jared, and all the other members of the Trump family? Sooner or later, when the whole impeachment circus reaches fever pitch in the House, Democrats need to pressure the media to start asking: "What about Ivanka? What about Jared?" to every single Republican interviewed, but we're not exactly holding our breath waiting for it.

"Whataboutism" snark aside, though, there was one major storyline which weaved through all of last year and simply was not reported. Or if it was, it was discounted. Or relegated to the back pages of the paper or a 10-second aside during a television news show. Even though it was a truly stunning story where America was clearly beating the rest of the world.

The Most Underreported Story of the year was: Bidenomics worked. The American economy weathered: the storm of the COVID pandemic, the supply chain problems which followed, the spike in inflation as a result, and a major war in Europe -- and it did it all without going into recession. Some parts of Biden's term have been rough, but in almost every case the same phenomenon happened worldwide to a much greater degree. And all but one economic indicator has turned around for the better now (and the remaining one is one of the few that the government has direct control over). We have emerged from COVID in better shape than ever expected, faster than ever expected, and without the recession that virtually every economist had predicted would happen this year.

We achieved the fabled "soft landing." That is stunning and the best news of the year, really. But you wouldn't know it from watching the news.

The mainstream news media thrives on bad news and conflict. They're not real good with presenting positive news or success stories. They get more clicks, more readers, more eyeballs by continually emphasizing the negative. Which they did, all year long, while things continued to improve with no downturn in sight.

Consider the reality, though:

The unemployment rate stayed below 4.0 percent all year long. It started the year at 3.4 percent, which is the lowest it has been since 1969. Black unemployment has hit all-time record lows. Biden charted better unemployment numbers than Trump, but you didn't hear about it on the news so much, did you?

The jobs market is still strong, which surprised most economists. Joe Biden has seen over 14 million jobs added during his term -- the best number of any American president, ever. Employment has rebounded to pre-pandemic levels and is incredibly strong.

Inflation has fallen from a post-pandemic high of 9.1 percent to (just last month) roughly one-third of that: 3.1 percent. It started the year at 6.4 percent, and since the ultimate target the Fed wants to reach is 2.0 percent, we're only about a point away from normalcy.

Infrastructure money has funded all sorts of big projects all across America. Trump made lots of promises on infrastructure and never achieved anything -- while Biden got it done.

The debt ceiling crisis (threatened by Republicans) was averted, which saved the entire world's economy from a huge shock which could have caused a tailspin.

Over three million workers are now getting paid for overtime instead of being listed as non-hourly employees and having to work extra hours for free for their employers. Unions had a great year and forced many significant changes on multiple large American industries.

Biden has started lowering prices of prescription drugs and is also attacking "junk fees" charged by many industries and universally hated by consumers.

America's gross domestic product increased at the jaw-dropping rate of 5.2 percent in the third quarter of this year. If the "Christmas shopping season" numbers are good, we could end the year with incredibly strong growth too.

Gas prices are down, and the prediction is that they'll fall even further next year as well. And -- here's a shocker you didn't hear on the evening news -- America is pumping more oil than ever out of the ground. More than when Trump was in office.

This last one is particularly annoying, since Republicans have been just outright lying about it, from Trump on down. They have convinced a fair share of the public that Biden is somehow waging some sort of "War On Oil," when the exact opposite is true: we are producing more oil than ever before.

Again, all of this is why "Bidenomics is working" is the clear winner of the Most Underreported Story of the year. We have achieved the fabled "soft landing." There was no recession. Which was pretty much contrary to everything the media had to say about it all year long.

The one economic indicator that remains high is interest rates. The Fed hiked them, to get inflation under control. But once the inflation number falls a tiny bit further (beneath the psychologically-important barrier of 3.0 percent so we start talking about it as "two-point-something" instead), the Fed is quite likely going to start cutting rates early next year. By the time the presidential election rolls around, if the economy is still doing well, the interest rates might be back down to reasonable levels once again (or at least headed in that direction).

All around, the strength of the American economy under President Biden's leadership is easily the Most Underreported Story of the year.


   Most Overreported Story

As a direct flip-side to that last one, our runner-up in this category is: "Ahhh! A recession is imminent! Everybody panic!!!" The news media kept beating this drum all year long, while evidence of the fabled "soft landing" for the economy built up month by month. The recession was just around the corner, the newspeople told us, over and over and over again. Even though it never happened.

Reader andygaus suggested: "Taylor Swift's concert tours," but personally we know better than to annoy her fanbase, so we are just going to mention this nomination in passing, and then (heh) shake it off.

The real Most Overreported Story this year was the Republican primary race. So far, none of it has mattered one whit. And none of it is likely going to matter next year, either. Donald Trump has such a stranglehold on the MAGA Republican base that no challenger has gotten within a mile of him in the polling -- not in national polls, and not in the early-voting state polls either.

Trump, quite obviously, is going to win the GOP nomination in a cakewalk. He's going to win it hands down. Without even expending much effort.

The truly astonishing thing is how none of the bad news swirling around Trump all year long diminished his standing in the polls even a tiny little bit. Every time he was indicted, with every other legal setback he suffered, his poll numbers actually went up.

Trump is polling so high that he blew off all the GOP debates -- and that didn't hurt his standing at all either. Personally, we've been saying since the end of July that Trump is almost inevitable as the GOP nominee, but that didn't stop the entire political pundit world from churning out lots and lots of stories that all pretended that Trump's challengers had the slightest chance of beating him. A lot of ink was spilled (well, a lot of pixels, to be more modern) on whether Ron DeSantis was up or down, or whether Nikki Haley was now the one with the clearest shot, ad nauseam.

None of it was really necessary. The political media didn't know how else to deal with the situation other than revert to their standard "here's another horserace story" response, but in reality the pack of challengers was so far back that the lead horse had finished the race before they even rounded the first turn. Which is why the Republican primary contest was the Most Overreported Story of the year.


   Biggest Government Waste

This was a close one. Our runner-up is all the investigations and committees in the House that are desperately trying to pin something (anything!) on Joe Biden, when he is obviously clean as a whistle. A whole bunch of time, energy, and money has been wasted chasing down this rabbit hole, and we are nowhere near the end of it yet.

But our winner for Biggest Government Waste this year was all the time and energy wasted -- twice! -- on the gigantic struggle in the Republican House for who would be their speaker. In January, we got an excruciating fifteen votes before the dust settled on McCarthy's speakership, and then the entire month of October was absolutely consumed with who would replace him (after the Republican caucus chucked McCarthy out).

It was all such a waste of time. And the GOP is still just as divided and just as unruly. It is an open question how long Mike Johnson will keep the job -- he may get booted out after he cuts some sort of budget deal with the Democrats next month. If this comes to pass, then we'll all have to go through the entire "picking a speaker" exercise all over again, for a third time.

So, pretty easily, the Biggest Government Waste (Of Time) was the melodrama over House Republicans choosing a speaker... twice.


   Best Government Dollar Spent

We would have said "the money spent on beefing up the I.R.S. budget," but we gave them a big prize last week, so we won't.

We could easily say "all the money spent investigating and prosecuting Donald Trump," for obvious reasons.

But instead, we're going to go "out there" for this one. Way out there. The Best Government Dollar Spent was all the money spent on forcing the government to transform its position on U.F.O.s. The secrecy that has surrounded the government's investigation of what it now prefers to call "Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena" has been near-total, all the way back to the Roswell incident and Project Blue Book, but a few intrepid souls in Congress have been pushing the military and the rest of the federal government to start (1) being a lot more open with the public as to what has been reported and what evidence exists, and (2) to stop ridiculing (and worse, punishing) those pilots who come forward with a report of anomalous activity in the skies.

They haven't completely succeeded in this, but they have made great strides in doing so. This year, NASA formed an independent study group and publicly broadcast the first meeting. The House Oversight Committee held a hearing with some jaw-dropping testimony (including one former intelligence officer who claimed the U.S. had recovered "nonhuman biologics" from a crashed U.F.O.). And now the Pentagon has an easy-to-use reporting system for service members and government employees to file reports of unidentified weird things in the skies.

These are all good steps forward into the light. Maybe the doubters are right and we are alone. Maybe the fervent believers are right and we have been visited numerous times over the years by alien life. But the only way to tell is to get it all out in the open and have the discussion in a serious and non-dismissive way. This year was a real leap forward towards that goal, which is why we are giving all the government money dedicated to this effort the Best Government Dollar Spent. The truth is out there... perhaps.


   Boldest Political Tactic

We had a few ideas for this one from Joe Biden showing up to a Union picket line to support striking autoworkers, and also for embracing the term "Bidenomics" and running on it -- which were both pretty bold political tactics.

From the House Republican Chaos Caucus, we had the whole concept of making a "motion to vacate the chair," which (astonishingly) actually succeeded in removing a speaker of the House for the first time in American history. Of course, being the Chaos Caucus, they had no earthly idea about what to do after they had accomplished this dubious feat, but that's about par for the course, for them. But we have to admit, it was a pretty bold tactic.

However -- and it does pain us to say this -- we have to give Boldest Political Tactic to Donald Trump, for deciding to skip all the Republican presidential debates. To any other candidate in any other presidential race in modern times, this would have been political suicide. The voters would be so outraged at such disrespect by one of the candidates that he (or she) would have taken a nosedive in the polling.

Trump calculated that his support among the MAGA base was so rock-solid it wouldn't matter. And also that the people running against him had little chance of ever catching up to him, so Trump showing up for the debates would have just let a bunch of wannabes take political potshots at him. There wasn't a lot of up-side for him to show up, he figured.

And it worked. He was right. Trump suffered no consequences for blowing off four debates, and after four Trumpless debates, the R.N.C. just threw up their hands and decided to end the farce. We won't have any more official GOP candidate debates this cycle.

Trump gambled, and he won. Which is why (very reluctantly) we have to award him the Boldest Political Tactic for taking that gamble.


   Best Idea

Kicking George Santos out of Congress? That was a pretty good idea all around, you have to admit.

Kidding aside, though, we have to say that running on abortion rights was the Best Idea of the year. And it's already in the running for Best Idea of next year, too.

Abortion rights are a big winner at the ballot box. Democrats have realized this and are making it a centerpiece of political campaigns. It will appear on multiple states' ballots next year, as a direct-democracy question -- ballot initiatives to enshrine abortion rights into the state's laws or into the state's constitution. And in states where it won't be directly on the ballot, Democrats will be highlighting the issue in their own political campaigns, if they are smart.

The forced-birth movement is finding out, over and over again, that this is not an issue where the majority of voters agree with their Draconian ideas for who should decide very personal medical issues. Democrats are standing for the rights of women and doctors to make these decisions, while Republicans want to impose state legislatures, judges, and any other governmental obstacle they can think up.

For Democrats, putting abortion rights front and center is a winning issue. Which, hopefully, will play out next year in all kinds of places across America. Just as it did in 2022 and 2023. For the past year, running on protecting women's rights was the Best Idea of the year.


   Worst Idea

Sad to say, we had a whole bunch of ideas that were all real stinkeroos.

Here is our list of nominees, in no particular order:

Keeping classified documents you are not supposed to have after your term in office is up (Trump, Biden, Pence...).

The antebellum (and antediluvian, in our opinion) concept now taught in Florida schools that "slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit."

Giving Republicans control of the House (and expecting it not to lead to sheer chaos).

Making Kevin McCarthy speaker.

Once McCarthy was deposed, the suggestion to make Donald Trump speaker.

Trump wanting to replace Obamacare with some unspecified nebulous idea.

The years-long delay from prosecutors before they brought charges against Trump and all his assorted henchmen and minions.

From reader andygaus: Lifelong presidential immunity for Trump.

Tommy Tuberville's blanket hold on military promotions (which won a different award here).

Renaming Twitter "X" (for some unfathomable reason).

Joe Biden kicking New Hampshire out of the "first in the nation primary" spot.

No Labels and independent and other third-party presidential candidates.

But instead we are going to give Worst Idea to the entire concept of "Biden v. Trump II" -- the rematch between two candidates that a vast majority of the electorate doesn't want to see again. Blame for this lands on both sides, really. Joe Biden was supposed to be a sort of transitional president, but when he realized Trump was probably going to be the GOP nominee he felt the duty to defeat him once again. Trump should never have been allowed to run, and wouldn't have been if 10 more Republicans had done the right thing in early 2021 and voted to convict him in his second impeachment trial (which would have barred him from office for life).

We are all going to live with this "Part 2" rematch, for all of next year. And the outcome is very much up in the air. Especially considering all those third-party and independent candidates who may be on the ballot.

The American electorate is not impressed with "Biden v. Trump II," but that's what they are going to get. Which is why we have to say that even though there were plenty of other bad ideas this year, it was easily the Worst Idea of them all.


   Sorry To See You Go

We have a rather extensive list of people we were sorry to see go this year, maybe because we have a pretty wide definition (including not just political figures but those from the worlds of music, television, movies, sports, and other names we felt some sort of attachment to for whatever reason).

We also had a few on our Grinch list, whom we must in all honesty say we were not sorry to see go: James Watt, Pat Robertson, Ted "Unabomber" Kaczynski, and Henry Kissinger.

But we had far more people deserving of mourning or at least noting by their passing. Here are the people on our Sorry To See You Go list:

  • Jeff Beck
  • David Crosby
  • Cindy Williams
  • Lisa Loring ("Wednesday Addams")
  • Harry Whittington (the guy Dick Cheney shot with a shotgun)
  • Gary Rossington
  • Dick Fosbury (of "the Fosbury Flop" fame)
  • Pat Schroeder
  • Gordon E. Moore ("Moore's Law")
  • Mark Russell
  • Craig Breedlove
  • Al Jaffee
  • Mary Quant
  • Barry Humphries ("Dame Edna")
  • Harry Belafonte
  • Jerry Springer
  • Gordon Lightfoot
  • Tina Turner
  • Astrud Gilberto ("The Girl From Ipanema")
  • Treat Williams
  • Cormac McCarthy
  • Daniel Ellsberg ("The Pentagon Papers")
  • Kevin Mitnick
  • Sinéad O'Connor
  • Paul Reubens ("Pee-wee Herman")
  • William Friedkin
  • Robbie Robertson
  • Samuel Wurzelbacher ("Joe The Plumber")
  • Jimmy Buffett
  • Bill Richardson
  • Brooks Robinson
  • Dianne Feinstein
  • Suzanne Somers
  • Rosalynn Carter
  • Sandra Day O'Connor
  • Norman Lear
  • Denny Laine
  • Tom Smothers
  • Gary Richards ("Mr. Roadshow" from the San Jose Mercury News)


   15 Minutes Of Fame

We're going to give this award not to a person but to an event.

Vice President Kamala Harris broke an American political record this year. One previously set by John C. Calhoun, to show what a rare event this truly was. Harris, in her constitutional role presiding over the Senate, cast a tie-breaking vote earlier this month. She actually cast two of them, and they were the 32nd and 33rd such votes she has cast as vice president. This broke the previous record of 31, set by Calhoun a full 191 years earlier.

So the record tie-breaking votes of Kamala Harris get the 15 Minutes Of Fame award, as Harris enters the history books for yet another reason. All of which, no doubt, would have made White supremacist and slavery-supporting Calhoun spin in his grave -- which is just icing on the cake, really.


   Best Spin

Speaking of politicians spinning... (heh).

There are a few nominees worth mentioning before we get to the actual award, here. Both "the Chaos Caucus" and the "Tinfoil Hat Committee" (to describe the do-nothing Republican House) were favorites of ours, over the whole year.

We would say Joe Biden embracing and owning "Bidenomics" was good spin, but the jury's still really out on it -- he hasn't done a great case of selling it to the public yet. Maybe next year....

Hunter Biden's performance demanding a public hearing before he would consent to testify was some pretty good spin, we have to admit.

Stormy Daniels had the funniest spin of the year, in her reaction to Donald Trump's first indictment, over the hush-money payments he made to her: "I am fully aware of the insanity of it being a porn star. But it's also poetic: this pussy grabbed back."

But to us, the Best Spin of the year was both the positive and the negative way Democrats have championed women's rights in the face of the attacks upon them by Republicans, in far too many states and at the national level. Democrats successfully renamed the opposition the "forced-birthers," which has the benefit of being both accurate and properly repulsive. And Democrats have leaned in heavily on what used to be a patented Republican political phrase, by talking about "defending freedom" and "getting government out of your life." Both are also true, and both resonate well among voters. Next year is going to be a continuation of the backlash against the Supreme Court chucking out Roe v. Wade, and it is going to help Democrats at the ballot box. We are just pleased to see that (for once!) they have come up with some masterful ways to talk about a hot-button issue. For doing so, the Democrats fighting for women's rights earned Best Spin of the year.


   Worst Spin

We had a few entries in this category as well. Republicans supposedly fighting the "weaponization of the federal government" when that is exactly what they themselves are trying to do was some pretty bad spin, you have to admit.

Donald Trump, after days of silence, reacting to the Israel/Gaza war by (1) praising Hezbollah and (2) dissing Benjamin Netanyahu for not being sufficiently loyal and servile to Trump was a pretty disgusting example of bad spin.

Funniest spin also came from Trump, as he proved once again he just isn't all that good with the English language (or spell-checkers) after being indicted for the first time. He blasted out, on his pet social media site, his fury at being (we are not making this up, and yes, it was in all caps): "INDICATED!" Whoops!

But the worst spin -- made all the more hilarious when he quickly made over $7 million off of it from his gullible rubes -- was Trump monetizing the only mugshot of him taken during his four indictments. Georgia didn't allow him (as all the federal jurisdictions did) to skip this humiliating step, so Trump tried to project some sort of "fighting back" strength with his expression. To those not of the MAGA persuasion, it was laughable -- Trump scowling into the camera like a petulant 2-year-old whose favorite toy was just taken away.

But what wins Trump the Worst Spin award is how he merchandised the image. He slapped it on T-shirts and other stuff his followers could buy with the motto: "NEVER SURRENDER!"

This was, we hasten to point out, a photo taken while Trump was surrendering himself to the authorities. Easily the Worst Spin of the year!


   Most Honest Person

Are you sitting down?

Hope so, because this one's going to be a shock.

We are giving Most Honest Person this year to none other than the biggest serial liar in American political history, Donald Trump.

We do this because Trump is now unafraid to "say the quiet part out loud" about what he's planning to do if he gets a second term as president. He wants to be a dictator, and he's not being very coy about that desire. He wants to round people up and put them in camps. He wants to use the Justice Department as his own personal implement of vengeance on anyone who has ever displeased him. He promises retribution to members of both parties on a regular basis.

He isn't being shy about any of it. He just comes right out and admits that he's planning his very own "reign of terror." He unashamedly uses language from Adolf Hitler and refuses to apologize for it.

These aren't "dog whistles." Trump was never very good at that sort of subterfuge. And now he feels completely free to just tell it like it is.

Our guess is that this is going to get even more pronounced next year. He'll come up with all sorts of ideas for wielding power in the worst imaginable ways, and then he'll just admit them in public. After all, so far he has yet to pay a political price for doing so. Perhaps -- just perhaps, mind you -- he will tone his language down when we get to the general election, but then again probably not.

For telling us all -- directly, without even attempting to hide any of it -- exactly what he wants to do as president again, Donald Trump is (we hate to admit it) the Most Honest Person of the year. It's downright frightening... all of it.


   Biggest Liar

Our go-to recipient of this award has been, for many years now, Donald Trump. But we can't very well give him awards for honesty and lying at the same time, so instead we will hand the Biggest Liar award to George Santos.

Santos became the first Republican to ever be ejected from the House of Representatives this year, because of all his lies. He may be going to jail soon as a direct result of them. His reputation is in tatters. He has no future in politics because he has alienated so many people with his lies (and with his personality). So he's already paid a heavy price for his prevarication.

But Santos wasn't just the Biggest Liar, he was also the Most Annoying Liar of the year as well.


   Most Overrated

This one's pretty easy. Most Overrated was the integrity of the U.S. Supreme Court. Up until now, the highest court in the land was seen as political in nature, but not downright corrupt. A 5-4 or 6-3 decision that you didn't agree with would be seen as just one side of the political aisle winning a long-running political argument (for the time being, at least), but few made accusations of justices being corruptly influenced by outright bribery, or anything even remotely close to it. The Bush v. Gore decision was the only one that truly stank, in terms of legalisms and ethics, but most of the public saw the court as either "on their side" or "not on their side" but not "out for every dollar they can squeeze out of their position."

The Clarence Thomas revelations have changed all of that. It's not even just Thomas, other justices seem to be cashing in through various ways that most Americans hadn't even known were legal. Thomas was just more blatant (and far more greedy) about it all than the rest of them.

Now the court is held in perhaps the lowest esteem in the last half-century (at the very least) by the public at large. They instituted a rather voluntary code of ethics in response to the outrage over Thomas accepting various goodies (that any other federal judge in the country would be barred from accepting), but it remains to be seen whether this will actually turn anything around in the public's eyes.

So easily, the integrity of the Supreme Court was the Most Overrated thing all year, and it utterly collapsed after the insatiable greed of Clarence Thomas was exposed.


   Most Underrated

We have two political issues that were underrated, one from each side of the aisle. On the right, immigration is a seriously-underrated motivator of votes. It's not just the scary photos from the border that rightwing news continually airs, it is in a larger sense the fact that immigration is at or near all-time highs in America -- at levels that haven't been seen in roughly a century. That makes it more potent as an issue, all across the country.

On the left, as we've pointed out in various other awards, abortion was seriously underrated by Republicans as a motivating force for voters. Many pundits figured the issue would somehow "go away" or "fade, over time," but instead the opposite has happened -- it has just gotten more potent and relevant over time.

The jury's still out on Mike Johnson, but he could wind up being seriously underrated in his ability to do his job as Republican speaker of the House. He's already survived a few instances of votes where he had to get a lot of Democratic support (which is what caused Kevin McCarthy to be ejected from the job), but the real test will come next month as he negotiates a final deal on this year's budget. This is going to involve the hotheads in Johnson's Chaos Caucus being massively disappointed again, and it is going to result in a few bills that require lots of Democratic support to pass. If he survives past Valentine's Day, he may keep his speaker job for the rest of the year. We'll have to see how it plays out, though.

The power of redistricting is underrated by all except the few political wonks and geeks who intimately know each House district on the map. Court cases and legislative actions continue, although they will be finalized very soon in most cases (as the primaries start to happen). Democrats could wind up picking up enough House seats to regain control of the chamber from the new district maps drawn (or being drawn) in several states. Or the Republicans could wind up with the edge -- again, all the maps have not been finalized yet. But the power of such redistricting (mostly through court order) could wind up being determinative in November.

But the winner of Most Underrated this year (and probably next, as well) is Robert F. Kennedy Junior, No Labels, and all the rest of the third-party and independent candidates who may or may not be on the presidential ballot when you go to cast your vote. The punditocracy is much more comfortable with speculating about the horserace as a two-horse contest, but this time around there may be four or five horses in the race. Nobody expects any of the independents or third-party candidates to win, of course, but they could siphon just enough votes off of either major candidate to decide the race -- especially in the battleground states.

The fact that there won't just be Joe Biden and Donald Trump on many states' ballots next year is the Most Underrated time bomb in American politics right now, hands down.



As always, let's start with a scorecard of what we got right last year and what we got laughably wrong. Here's our list of 2023 predictions, from last year's column:

Kevin McCarthy will not be elected speaker of the House on the first ballot. The radical Republicans who hate him will put up an alternate candidate, who will lose too. The House will then immediately be gavelled into recess and the wheeling and dealing will get fierce. They'll return eventually and hold a second ballot, but that too will be torpedoed at the last minute. On the third ballot, the disaffected extremists will be convinced to vote "Present," which removes them from the total (if five vote "present" then a simple majority is half of 430, or 215, plus one). McCarthy will win this third vote, but shy of the 218 that would be needed with the full House voting on a candidate. This will start McCarthy's tenure with the same theme that will continue all year long: weakness.

Proxy voting will continue in the House, although it will be curtailed from where it is now. McCarthy is promising to end the practice entirely, but too many Republicans have discovered how useful it can be, so he'll rein it in but not get rid of it entirely.

At some point before the end of spring (as reader John M suggested), Donald Trump will be indicted and arrested for something. Best guess is that the first of these will happen in Georgia. The federal special counsel will also charge Trump with (at the very least) obstruction in the documents case.

From reader andygaus comes: "If he is taken into custody, there will be violence," which we're going to agree with, but our guess is that this violence will not be major or widespread and will die down soon enough.

But no trial will begin all year long, as Trump deploys his team of lawyers to delay, delay, delay. Motions will be filed, appeals made, and it all will throw sand in the gears of justice.

From reader Kick we got: "If [Trump] doesn't drop out of the GOP presidential race before the primaries, Trump will be left off ballots in some states in America citing Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution." We're going to agree with that one, although we would change it to read "some blue states...".

Ron DeSantis will jump into the Republican presidential race, as will: Mike Pence, Chris Christie, Larry Hogan, Nikki Haley, Tim Scott, Glenn Youngkin, and Mike Pompeo. Liz Cheney, however, will not run.

Joe Biden will run. If he doesn't have some major public stumble/embarrassment, he will not be seriously challenged by any prominent Democrat.

The war in Ukraine will drag on all year, but the Ukrainians will retake more ground and eventually cut off Russia's "land bridge" to Crimea.

And finally, Senator Dianne Feinstein will have some spectacular "senior moment" that makes her continuation in the Senate unthinkable. She will quietly be convinced to step down, and Gavin Newsom will replace her with... himself. Since he won't be able to challenge Biden in 2024, he'll figure that the Senate will be a better place to launch a presidential campaign in 2028 than as the governor of California.

Let's quickly run through these one by one. I correctly predicted McCarthy would not be elected speaker on the first or second floor votes, but I was wildly optimistic in predicting he'd make it on the third vote. In reality, it took until the fifteenth vote. But hey, at least I got the "weakness" part right, so I am going to chalk this one up as a win in a general way.

I blew the second one, McCarthy did indeed get rid of proxy voting in the House, from the very start of his tenure.

Donald Trump was indicted before the end of spring (his first indictment was actually at the start of the season), and he was indeed indicted on the documents case. The first of these didn't happen in Georgia (in fact, that one came last), but I qualified it with "best guess," so I'm grading on a curve here and chalking this one up as a solid win.

There actually was no violence when Trump turned himself in on his four indictments, so that has to be marked as a clear loss (although also as "a win for the country at large").

No criminal trial has begun for Trump, so the next one is a win as well.

Trump, to date, has been left off of two states' ballots (although as things stand, this could get reversed for both Colorado and Maine), so this one was a clear win as well.

We're giving ourselves half-credit for the next one, as Pence, Christie, Haley, and Scott all ran, but Hogan, Youngkin, and Pompeo did not.

Joe Biden is running, and no prominent Democrat challenged him, so that's a clear win.

Although the war in Ukraine did indeed drag on all year, we're chalking this one up as a loss, as the battle lines haven't changed appreciably all year long (in either direction, really). It seems to have settled into a stalemate, for the time being at least.

Senator Feinstein did indeed have a few senior moments, but she was not convinced to step down (she died in office) and Newsom replaced her with a seat-holder who is not running. So this was a loss as well.

When you add all that up, it comes out to five-and-a-half right out of ten. That's not too bad, as predictions go.

With that out of the way, let's move on to gazing into our crystal ball for next year. Here are my 2024 predictions:

Speaker Mike Johnson will cut a deal in January with Democrats and the federal budget will pass without the government shutting down. Almost all of the poison-pill stuff the MAGA Chaos Caucus demanded will wind up on the cutting room floor. But in the end (through sheer exhaustion with the process involved), Johnson will survive as speaker for the rest of the year.

A deal on the border and immigration will be cut between Biden and the Republicans, and the supplemental package of military aid to Israel and Ukraine will pass with the border deal. Biden will be seen by many on the left as having caved on immigration, but it will turn out to be a smart political move that helps Biden in the general election campaign.

Ukraine and Russia enter into talks to end the war, but they are not resolved by the end of the year and the fighting goes on in a long stalemate.

The Supreme Court will rule that Trump can appear on the presidential ballot, at least until he is actually convicted of crimes related to the January 6th insurrection attempt.

The Supreme Court also denies Trump's claims of absolute blanket immunity for everything, and upholds the principle that "no man is above the law in America."

More of Trump's co-defendants will flip and turn state's evidence in the Georgia case, including Rudy Giuliani (who won't be able to afford decent legal help by that point).

During at least one of Trump's trials, he will be cited for contempt of court for either (take your pick) an unhinged outburst in the courtroom, or for standing up and attempting to storm out unexpectedly.

Trump will be tried and convicted by a jury in at least one of his criminal cases (and, furthermore, this doesn't even include the Stormy Daniels hush-money case -- Trump will be convicted of other serious charges instead).

Some outbreaks of small-scale violence will follow Trump's conviction, but they will also quickly die down.

Donald Trump and Joe Biden will be the major parties' nominees for president.

Joe Biden will win the election.

Trump will (of course) go ballistic and insist that the election was stolen (again!). This also will quickly die down, as most Americans will be finally ready to move on from Trump.

OK, those are our (rather optimistic) guesses for the coming year. We end by congratulating you for making it all the way through and we sincerely wish all our readers a happy holiday season and a spectacular new year! And, as always, to end in true McLaughlin fashion, we now say to all of you:


-- Chris Weigant


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

2023 -- [Part 1]
2022 -- [Part 1] [Part 2]
2021 -- [Part 1] [Part 2]
2020 -- [Part 1] [Part 2]
2019 -- [Part 1] [Part 2]
2018 -- [Part 1] [Part 2]
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


26 Comments on “My 2023 "McLaughlin Awards" [Part 2]”

  1. [1] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    Stay tuned for Joe vs the volcano 2.

  2. [2] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    Good list!

  3. [3] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    Re. Bidenomics - Most Underreported Story

    And -- here's a shocker you didn't hear on the evening news -- America is pumping more oil than ever out of the ground. More than when Trump was in office.

    Yeah, I heard about that. But, that's because I follow a variety of environmental reporting on a fairly regular basis.

    It's not all great news for a world in the throes of a dawning climate apocalypse where it is essential that there be at least a serious phase-down, if not a phase-out, of fossil fuel development and certainly not the phase-up that we are witnessing.

    I think all the largely non-serious global efforts to mitigate the worst impacts of climate change - see COP28 - have basically led us to a place where nothing will save us now, anyways.

    Drill, baby, drill!

  4. [4] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    All around, the strength of the American economy under President Biden's leadership is easily the Most Underreported Story of the year.

    Bidenomics sure doesn't seem to be resonating with voters. Are Biden administration officials even using that term to describe Biden's economic policies, anymore?

    I know that using the Republican cult of economic failure moniker, coined by David Fiderer more than decade ago, has never really caught on around here or anywhere else, for that matter.

    And, despite a vast array of evidence to the contrary, most voters still seem to hold the wildly mistaken view that Republicans - even of the Trump ilk - are the better stewards of the economy and of tax and fiscal policy.

    How does that longstanding but mistaken view get corrected?

  5. [5] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    For Democrats, putting abortion rights front and center is a winning issue. Which, hopefully, will play out next year in all kinds of places across America. Just as it did in 2022 and 2023. For the past year, running on protecting women's rights was the Best Idea of the year.

    Hear! Hear!

    I just wish there would be more extensive reporting on all that Republicans hope to accomplish in opposing women's reproductive rights and how all-encompassing those Republican hopes are beyond just banning abortions.

  6. [6] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Joe Biden was supposed to be a sort of transitional president, but when he realized Trump was probably going to be the GOP nominee he felt the duty to defeat him once again.

    Why did 'transitional' ever have to be equated with 'one term only!'?

  7. [7] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    We would say Joe Biden embracing and owning "Bidenomics" was good spin, but the jury's still really out on it -- he hasn't done a great case of selling it to the public yet. Maybe next year....

    Are they still embracing the term? I think it is about as effective as my favourite, the Republican cult of economic failure.

    Both have been ineffective because the underlying reasons for using them are not being talked about ... really, at all, let alone in any serious discussion.

    Won't the 2024 presidential election come down to the one thing it usually comes down to - the economy!? Here's hoping Biden doesn't keep missing the boat on this issue.

    Drawing the very stark distinctions between Republican and Democratic tax and fiscal policy and how those policies impact on the lives of average citizens over the short, medium and long term is the way to go.

    After all, there is a plethora of evidence to use in making the persuasive argument that Republican administrations - from Reagan to Trump - have a decades long record of creating economic messes on the order of magnitude of the Augean Stables for Democratic administrations to clean up!

  8. [8] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    And Democrats have leaned in heavily on what used to be a patented Republican political phrase, by talking about "defending freedom" and "getting government out of your life." Both are also true, and both resonate well among voters.

    Whenever a Republican - and especially any Republican presidential candidate - talks about defending freedom and getting government out of your life, somebody, anybody should retort forcefully by saying "except when it comes to a woman's body and women's reproductive rights and what consenting adults do in their bedrooms"! To be quickly followed up with an airing of how expansive the Republican agenda really is on this critical issue.

  9. [9] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    That was fun - Happy New Year, Chris!

  10. [10] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Speaking of underreported stories, I've been thinking a lot about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict these days and thinking all the way back to the Oslo peace accords and trying to understand how we got to where we are now and, most importantly, how we get to a better place, post 10/7.

    It seems to me that the present situation is not sustainable, not if we wish to see less violence and more peace, for Israelis and Palestinians, alike.

    There has to be a better path forward for all concerned. But, and here's the rub, it will take some very courageous and enlightened political leadership from the US, Israel and Palestine. Right now, that sort of leadership is, apparently, non-existent from all quarters.

  11. [11] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:


    All in all, very well done!!

  12. [12] 
    nypoet22 wrote:
  13. [13] 
    nypoet22 wrote:
  14. [14] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    Dang. Anyhow, it's a nonfiction graphic novel about a twenty-something progressive on a birthright trip in 2007, called "how to understand Israel in 60 days or less"

  15. [15] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I'm far too upset to discuss.

  16. [16] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Afraid I might say something I'll regret, you understand.

  17. [17] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    That was a little joke ...

  18. [18] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    But to us, the Best Spin of the year was both the positive and the negative way Democrats have championed women's rights in the face of the attacks upon them by Republicans, in far too many states and at the national level.

    I couldn't disagree more. Democrats haven't even gotten close to what this issue is all about or about what should happen - or not happen, as the case may be - to any man who opposes abortion rights. Ahem.

    We are just pleased to see that (for once!) [Dems] have come up with some masterful ways to talk about a hot-button issue.

    Really? This was the only part that wasn't a lot of fun.

    Why is it so hard to communicate about sex and, more importantly, about why sex should be withheld from any man who opposes abortion and declines to support women and their reproductive rights?

    We need to completely change the conversation on this issue and get real!

  19. [19] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    I think that under “Destined For Political Oblivion” you should have included any elected official who took part in January 6. When Trump is barred from holding political office because he participated in an insurrection, then it will start trickling down to the members of Congress who were involved as well. The GOP could find themselves in big trouble when they have to resort to lesser qualified candidates than the pathetic batches they are currently running. Truly the bottom of the barrel!

  20. [20] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:



    I think Chris knows that Trump will not be barred from holding public office. Besides, the 'trickling down' thing usually doesn't work very well.

    In fact, it's as likely as not that
    Trump's trial in DC won't even happen until after the election. And, if Trump is elected, then ... well, you know.

    How are his poll numbers lately?

    America has been on the path to Trump for a very, very long time. The decline began to accelerate in the aftermath of a real coup, the JFK assassination, and the journey is nowhere near finished.

    It is finally beginning to dawn on me just how misguided I have been in believing in the promise of America for so long. That's Biden's favourite term, you know ... the promise of America.

    Maybe I've just been around too long - but, the Ukraine and Gaza situations have proven once and for all that there is no promise of America except to say that if there is a way to make a bad situation worse, America will find it and make sure it gets implemented.

    The economy is the only potential winning issue for Biden to run on but, since the Reagan years until now, no Democratic president has been able to put as much as a dent in the Republican cult of economic failure.

  21. [21] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:


    I disagree regarding Trump being disqualified. The state’s are responsible for handling their own elections — they can determine whether Trump is disqualified under the 14th Amendment for themselves. After the Civil War, when the 14th was first instituted, Confederates were kept off ballots without ever being convicted of insurrection by the courts. The courts have already ruled that Trump most definitely committed insurrection with his attempts to overturn the election. Will he be barred from being on the ballot everywhere? Doubt it. Some states will choose to ignore the facts.

  22. [22] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    "What do you do with a problem like [il Duce]?"

    I don't know. One thing I do think, though, is that it would be much better to not have Trump disqualified from being on any ballot and have him lose, bigly. Well, not sure how realistic that outcome is but kicking him off ballots is a sure fire way to increase his popularity, whatever the outcome of the presidential election

  23. [23] 
    Kick wrote:


    Instead, we are going to agree with the nomination from reader andygaus and give Destined For Political Stardom to House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries.

    Great choice.

    I would also keep an eye on Maryland's Governor Wes Moore. He's a mover and a shaker too. :)

  24. [24] 
    Kick wrote:


    Pence isn't just Destined For Political Oblivion... he's already there.

    Keep in mind, however, that it's Mike Pence who was literally in the room where it happened and is a direct witness to Donald Trump's plan to ignore the duly certified electors in multiple states in favor of fake certifications sent to NARA in violation of law, and that likely makes Pence a star witness in what is very likely the largest political trial against a former President of the United States we'll ever see. :)

  25. [25] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


  26. [26] 
    Kick wrote:

    Elizabeth Miller

    The economy is the only potential winning issue for Biden to run on...


    With that nugget of yours (among multiple others), I agree wholeheartedly with your declaration in [20] that you are "misguided."

    In point of fact, multiple of your recent posts are rapidly approaching what could accurately be described as "flailing." :)

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