The Best and the Worst of 2013
Friends and family of NRO share their year-end lists.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius


Michael J. New
Best: The election of Pope Francis. Through his humility, his piety, and his example, the new pope is inspiring not only Roman Catholics but people of all faith traditions to greater faith and holiness.

Pittsburgh Pirates make the playoffs. The Pittsburgh Pirates experienced a Major League Baseball–record 20 straight losing seasons between 1993 and 2012. Their success this year should give sports fans everywhere reason for hope.

Worst: Senator Wendy Davis’s filibuster of the 20-week abortion ban. It is hard to say what is worse, a Texas state senator mounting an extensive filibuster to defend a practice that approaches infanticide or the fawning coverage that she received from the mainstream media. Even though pro-lifers are winning the hearts and minds of the American people, this episode clearly demonstrated how one-sided the mainstream media is on this issue.

The Kermit Gosnell trial. This whole episode showed how legal abortion greatly corrupts public health. The polarizing nature of the issue allowed Gosnell’s deplorable clinic to go virtually unregulated by the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Similarly, the National Abortion Federation, which was aware of the unsanitary conditions and public-health risks, remained virtually silent. This inaction gravely harmed a number of vulnerable women and children.

Michael J. New is an assistant professor of political science at University of Michigan–Dearborn and an associate scholar at the Charlotte Lozier Institute in Washington, D.C.

Worst moment: On 9/11, in an article ghost-written by an American public-relations firm, Vladimir Putin scolded President Obama for alluding to American exceptionalism: “It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation.” It was galling to see a former KGB thug lecture Americans about our ideals, and disturbing to ponder why he thought he could taunt us this way.

Best moment: The finale to Breaking Bad, an emotionally satisfying conclusion that resolved multiple plotlines. More important, the series made a point about the consequences of choosing evil. After Walter White decided to cook meth, things spiraled out of control, and many people died. The first line of the closing song, playing over Walt’s death, said it all: “Guess I got what I deserve#…”

— John J. Pitney Jr. is Roy P. Crocker Professor of American Politics at Claremont McKenna College.

The best of 2013: In terms of politics, we’ve had one big win: Americans’ distrust in big government is at an all-time high. And thankfully, a forward-thinking, creative, solution-oriented conservatism is gaining steam. (It’s our only way out of the “establishment vs. tea partiers” divide, and it deserves our support.)

The American people successfully defended our Second Amendment from liberal assault, despite a full-court press from the administration and its allies on Capitol Hill and in the media.

I’m also happy that Ruth Bader Ginsburg is enjoying apparent good health: Let’s hope she stays hard at work another three years!

And for fans of Homeland: The last few episodes of the seasons were thrilling; and for those of us who can’t stand Dana, it looks like she might finally be out of the picture (unless a plotline with her half-sibling pulls her back in).

The worst of 2013: The bad news is that our government has given us a lot of reasons for our distrust. The IRS scandal proved that nearly everything we feared about it is true. People who believed the president’s emphatic assurances that they could keep their health insurance got a rude awakening.

And there were a lot of shameful moments, too, such as when the administration chose to lock WWII veterans out of their own memorial, or when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid commented, “Why would we want to” help one kid with cancer?

Long-term unemployment remains a huge problem, and the president isn’t offering any solutions. The country deserves better next year.

April Ponnuru is the policy director of YG Network.

Hans von Spakovsky
The saddest moment was the passing of the Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher, on April 8. She and her friend Ronald Reagan were two of the greatest statesmen in recent history. They led the fight for liberty and economic freedom not only in their own countries, but in the rest of the world. There are tens of millions of people who were once imprisoned in the Eastern bloc who owe their freedom today to the leadership of Lady Thatcher and President Reagan and their willingness to confront the forces of evil head on.

The most tragic and infuriating moment was the terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon on April 15 that killed three Americans and wounded 264 others. Tragic because of the needless pain and suffering inflicted on the innocent and infuriating because of 1) the negligence of our own government, which ignored warnings from the Russians about one of the bombers, and 2) the betrayal by ungrateful immigrants who had been welcomed to this country.

Contrary to the political-consultancy naysayers in Washington, I think one of the best political moments was the Republicans’ standing up for their principles and risking popular discontent by taking on the president and his party in trying to defund one of the worst, most unpopular laws ever passed by Congress: Obamacare.

Finally, on the international front, it was a good moment when the military deposed Mohamed Morsi in Egypt in July and stopped the implementation of a terrorist, Muslim Brotherhood caliphate. This helped reverse the ineptness of the Obama administration’s foreign policy and its tolerance of dangerous, theocratic tyrannies.

— Hans A. von Spakovsky is a senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation and the co-author of Who’s Counting? How Fraudsters and Bureaucrats Put Your Vote at Risk (Encounter Books 2012).

The worst moment of 2013 was Obama’s interim nuclear agreement with the Islamic Republic of Iran. The nuclear deal profoundly jeopardizes core security interests of the U.S. and opens nuclear-brinkmanship doors in the volatile Middle East.

The best moment of 2013 was Pastor Eddie Romero’s protest in front of Iran’s notorious Evin Prison in Tehran. He sought the release of four Christians incarcerated for practicing their faith and a human-rights advocate.

Benjamin Weinthal is a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.


Sign up for free NRO e-mails today:

Subscribe to National Review