Politics & Policy

The Best and Worst

A look back at the political news of 2005.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We asked some family and friends to name their picks for best and worst political moments of 2005. Here’s what they came up with.

Michael G. Franc

Best political moment: The confirmation of John Roberts to be the 17th chief justice of the Supreme Court. Roberts’s opinionated writings during the Reagan administration and his decisions on the Court of Appeals assured us that he is a worthy successor to William Rehnquist.

Worst political moment: The near instantaneous politicization of the response to Hurricane Katrina. The media’s ready acceptance of the proposition that all responsibility for the flawed response and recovery effort rested on President Bush’s shoulders and none of it with the hapless duo of Governor Blanco and Mayor Nagin and the delusional race-mongering of Jesse Jackson, Louis Farrakhan, and their acolytes intimidated lawmakers from shining a long overdue spotlight on the unmitigated failure of Great Society “anti-poverty” programs in New Orleans and elsewhere.

Michael G. Franc is vice president of government relations for the Heritage Foundation.


I think the best political moment of 2005 occurred just a couple of weeks ago, after Sen. Joe Lieberman penned a piece for the Wall Street Journal expressing some common sense about the war in Iraq and succeeded in flushing out the incoherence and defeatism of many activists in his own party. The result was an announcement from Lowell Weicker that he’ll stage a rematch against Lieberman in 2006 if no other antiwar candidate emerges in Connecticut. That would simply be delicious.

I cannot think of a worse political moment during the 2005 than the astounding behavior of two Alaska Republicans: Sen. Ted Stevens and Rep. Don Young, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Challenged to defend the indefensible $223 million project to run a bridge to an island populated by 50 people and an airport, Stevens exploded. “I don’t kid people,” he spat. “If the Senate decides to discriminate against our state . . . I will resign from this body.” His argument, apparently, is that if the federal government is going to squander money in other states, Alaskans have a right to insist on squandering it in their state. Viva the Republican Revolution! For his part, Young reacted to a proposal to redirect money for another wasteful bridge with the following: “They can kiss my ear! That is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.” Kiss my ear? Assuming Young could hear himself, his two sentences were contradictory.

John Hood is president of the John Locke Foundation, a public policy think tank in Raleigh, N.C, and the author of Selling the Dream: Why Advertising is Good Business..


Worst: Sen. Dick Durbin comparing the treatment of detainees at Gitmo to that of the “Nazis, Soviets in their gulags or some mad regime–Pol Pot or others.” (Did Pol Pot give “culturally appropriate meals” to his political prisoners?)

Best: Conservatives refusing to accept and ultimately defeating the nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court.

Laura Ingraham hosts a nationally syndicated radio show.


Best: The first election of women to public office in Saudi Arabia, when Lama Al-Sulaiman and Nashwa Taher won two out of 12 seats open on the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry board. Not only did 17 women run in the historic elections, but voter turnout was mostly male, meaning the guys voted the women in–no quotas, no mandates, just good honest campaigning by competent businesswomen.

Worst: Castro/Chavez lackey and coca farmer Evo Morales winning the Bolivian presidency. Not only are crack dealers everywhere doing a happy dance, but South America continues to melt into a pile of Marxist mush.

Bridget Johnson will spend Christmas at the Los Angeles Daily News, where she is a columnist. She blogs at GOP Vixen .


Certainly the best political moment was a recent slaughter of the Cowboys by the Redskins, who thank heavens refuse to change their name to “the D.C. Native Americans Who Play in Maryland For Some Reason.”

Probably the worst moment was whenever Howard Dean opened his mouth.

Michael Ledeen, an NRO contributing editor, is most recently the author of The War Against the Terror Masters. He is resident scholar in the Freedom Chair at the American Enterprise Institute


The worst political decision was the president’s choice of Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court. At every level, it made no sense and stirred the conservative base against him. In the end, it was also the president’s best political decision as it resulted in him reacquainting himself with his conservative base and reenergizing his presidency.

Mark R. Levin is author of the best-selling Men In Black, president of Landmark Legal Foundation, and a radio talk-show host on WABC in New York.

Kathryn Jean Lopez

Worst: Those early-December Katrina-was-a-Bush-genocide-against-blacks House hearings and the Rosa Parks funeral were pretty bad.

Best: Besides political progress in Iraq and Afghanistan, John Roberts sworn in as chief justice. Love the kids. Love the family. Love the justice. Love the president.

More seriously: The jury’s out, but I have a good feeling about the potential for the Roberts Court.

Kathryn Jean Lopez is the editor of National Review Online.


Best tinfoil-hat diatribe by an elected Democrat: N.Y. Rep. Maurice Hinchey’s fevered February 2005 allegations that Karl Rove was behind the CBS Rathergate fiasco. Thanks to Little Green Footballs for the transcript:

Worst Hollywood racial demagoguery: Kanye West’s barely coherent Hurricane Katrina slam of President Bush.

Best fake hearings: The “Bush engineered 9/11″ crackpot-fest convened by Rep. Cynthia McKinney in July 2005.

Most cowardly Howard Dean moment: His failure to condemn the abuse heaped on former Pentagon adviser Richard Perle during their Portland debate in February 2005 (an antiwar protester threw a shoe at Perle and called him a “motherf**king liar” as the crowd cheered).

Worst troop-smearing by an elected Democrat: Tie between Dick “Troops at Gitmo=Soviets in the gulags” Durbin and John “Troops=terrorists” Kerry.

Worst smear of law-abiding Americans by an elected Republican: President Bush’s March 2005 attack on the Minutemen as “vigilantes.”

Worst MSM photo-shop of a Bush official: USA Today’s vandalism on Condi Rice’s eyes.

Worst photo-shop by an unhinged liberal: Hateblogger Steve Gilliard’s Sambo rendition of Maryland GOP Lt. Gov. Michael Steele.

Michelle Malkin is a syndicated columnist and author of Invasion: How America Still Welcomes Terrorists Criminals & Other Foreign Menaces to Our Shores. She blogs at michellemalkin.com.


Best political moment: Iraqi voters waving purple fingers.

Worst political moment: Anderson Cooper of CNN asking Sen. Mary Landrieu, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, “Who are you angry at?”

John J. Miller is national political reporter for National Review and the author, most recently, of A Gift of Freedom: How the John M. Olin Foundation Changed America..


Worst Political Moment of 2005: Camp Cindy Sheehan

Best Political Moment of 2005: Republicans Scheduling Quick Vote on the Murtha Amendment and Forcing Democrats, Including Murtha, To Vote Against Pulling Troops Out of Iraq

Word Without Which Andrew Sullivan Could Not Write a Blog Item in 2005: Waterboarding

John Podhoretz, a regular contributor to NRO’s “The Corner,” is a columnist for the New York Post and author of Bush Country: How Dubya Became a Great President While Driving Liberals Insane.


There have been many historic political moments in 2005, from the three elections in Iraq and the Sunni decision to participate in the most recent one, to the establishment of a truly democratic government in Afghanistan, but the best political moment of 2005 was the moment that the Bush administration decided to fight back against its domestic critics. The administration may never realize how demoralizing it was to its supporters and how destructive it was to the war effort to watch as it silently took month after month of dishonest attacks from the Democrats, the Cindy Sheehan chorus and the media, but its decision to fight back has helped stop the downward spiral it was in.

The worst political moment? There have been so many awful ones it’s hard to choose only one, but I would say that DNC Chairman Howard Dean’s announcement that the war in Iraq was unwinnable–on the eve of true democratic elections there that for the first time involved the Sunni–has to be the worst. Dean has shown time and again that he and the party he leads simply cannot be trusted on matters of national security or, indeed, any other matters of any level of importance at all. To the contrary, the Dean Democrats can be counted on to throw al Qaeda a rhetorical lifeline at every major turning point in this war.

Bryan Preston is a writer and television producer. He is also the author of Junkyardblog.


The worst moment of 2005: President Bush threatening to veto any change to the horrible prescription-drug-benefit bill. I can’t think of anything that would be more irresponsible and morally negligent in the world of fiscal policy. That’s with the exemption of course of congressional republicans offering up a spending reconciliation bill with phantom cuts and spending increases while the moderates stood firm and won concessions for smaller cuts.

The best moment of 2005: Seeing an increase in federal revenues that proves once again that reductions in taxes on capital create economic growth, which creates more revenues

–Veronique de Rugy is a research scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.


For the worst, here’s the year in review.

My best is obviously the spread of democracy in the Middle East. The fact that this story hasn’t defined 2005 is I think a testament to the tenacity with which the media oppose Bush’s foreign policy.

Stephen Spruiell reports on the media for National Review Online’s new media blog.

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