Politics & Policy

It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Worst of Times

The good, bad, and ugly of politics in 2006.

What were the best and worst political moments of 2008? National Review Online asked a group of political watchers for their nominations.

#ad#John Hood

The best political moment of 2006 was also one of the most improbable results on Election Day: Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s narrow reelection in Minnesota. A conservative bucks the national tide in a Blue state. It was pretty much the only statewide result of that variety.

The worst political moment was a feeling I got one day in September after reading and hearing multiple comments from Republicans and conservative commentators downplaying the possibility of a Democratic sweep. Next time, trust the numbers and can the wishful thinking.

John Hood is a syndicated columnist and president of the John Locke Foundation, a state policy think tank in North Carolina.

Mark Levin

Best political moment: Bill Clinton imploding during an interview on the Fox News Channel with Chris Wallace.

Worst political moment: The electoral loss of two patriots — Senators Rick Santorum and George Allen.

Mark R. Levin is author of the best-selling Men In Black, president of Landmark Legal Foundation, and a radio talk-show host. He blogs at NRO at levin.nationalreview.com.

Yuval Levin

The best political moment of the year came early: The confirmation of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court. It was a critical long-term achievement and a reminder both of why elections matter and (in the painful process of getting him named) of what a political movement with focus and purpose can do. That a court confirmation should be a great political success is a bad sign about what our judiciary has come to, but there we are.

The worst political moment of the year was late on thumpin’ night when the Kansas City votes came in and it became clear Senator Jim Talent would lose his seat. On a night of many regrettable losses, this may well have been the most painful, because it captured so much of what was painful about the rest: victory for a textbook liberal candidate in an awfully close and hard fought swing-state race, and an avoidable loss of a genuinely serious conservative (and with him, the Senate).

Yuval Levin is a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and senior editor of the The New Atlantis magazine.

Kathryn Jean Lopez

Yuval’s right, the worst political moment of the year was in Missouri — it was Amendment 2’s victory there, which put a right to clone in the state constitution. But that was also the best political moment of the year: Cloning opponents broke through a media wall of disinformation like never before, getting their message heard nationwide. Unfortunately, in the end, they were outspent out outgunned.

But you can’t discusss the Missouri loss without reiterating Mark’s Santorum mention. Rick Santorum’s absence will be felt in the Senate, a body which is not exactly overrun with leaders.

– Kathryn Jean Lopez is the editor of National Review Online.

Thomas McClusky

For “Best Political Moment” there aren’t many to pick from. The successful confirmation of Samuel Alito stands out, but I like to think of that as a democratic moment and not a political moment (call me naive.) Is it the culmination of Representative Henry Hyde’s career? Though to lose a true statesman like him when we need him most might be seen as a “worst moment.”

Best would be President Bush vetoing H.R. 810, the bill that would have expanded taxpayer funding for destructive human-embryo research. It would have been nice to see the president veto some of the early expansions of government control and spending (including those that came from him), however it is good to have a president recognize that we are talking about innocent human life, not subjects in a petri dish. Hopefully this will mean that President Bush will stand for life when the new 110th Congress starts trying to roll back current pro-life provisions in law.

For “Worst Political Moment” there are too many too choose from. Is it Senator John Kerry phoning in his filibuster of Samuel Alito from the Alps of Davos? Is it the overblown macaca drifting in from Virginia this past election season? Is it the loss of John Bolton at the U.N. and the ignoble way the Republican party let it happen? Is it the outrageous decision from the New Jersey supreme court ordering the state legislature to ignore science, statistics, tradition and the will of the people and impose same-sex marriage on the Garden State, but I like to think of that as an undemocratic moment and not a political moment. High on the list of worst moments would certainly be the losses of a number of pro-family champions, including Senators Talent, DeWine, and (of course) Santorum.

Worst would have to be the scandal surrounding Mark Foley. It symbolized two parties that cared about nothing except for power. They would ignore possible threats to children to either keep power or to retake control. Mark Foley was a culmination of corruption that was mostly ignored by Congress, from Duke Cunningham to William Jefferson. The final report on the Foley scandal only confirmed that neither party deserves control of Congress.

On that note, it is the season of the birth of Christ, and we need to remember with faith we have hope. Merry Christmas and here is to next year!

– Thomas McClusky is vice president of government affairs at the Family Research Council.

John J. Miller

Best political moment: Samuel Alito confirmed.

Worst political moment: “Macaca.”

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.

Kenneth Weinstein

Best: President Bush’s decision to overlook the over-hyped Baker Commission recommendations.

Worst: John Kerry’s politically suicidal and half-baked attempt at a joke at the expense of our men and women in uniform.

– Kenneth Weinstein is chief executive officer of the Hudson Institute.

NR Symposium — National Review symposia are discussions featuring contributors to and friends of the magazine.

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