The Campaign Spot

The Three Martini Lunch Awards of 2014

If you’re not listening to the Three Martini Lunch podcast… well, you should.

For the past week or so, my co-host Greg Corombus and I have named our award winners in a wide variety of categories, inspired by the old end-of-the-year episodes of “The McLaughlin Group.”

Most overrated politician of 2014: Wendy Davis. Running a candidate best known for a filibuster to preserve late-term abortion in a statewide campaign in Texas was a stupid idea, promoted by stupid people, with predictably disastrous results for Texas Democrats.

Alternate: Alison Lundergan Grimes.

Greg’s pick: Hillary Clinton.

Most underrated politician of 2014: I think Rick Perry is considered an also-ran in most people’s minds discussing 2016, and I think he may end up being a much bigger player in the discussion than everyone thinks.

Hiring Steve Schmidt is a little ominous, but Perry clearly has a solid record, he’s going to learn from his mistakes from last time, the issue of economic anxiety hasn’t gone away, and so he’s a figure who can appeal to the conservative base who has some substance to him. I’m not saying he’s going to win the nomination, but it’s easy to picture him lasting a lot longer than last cycle.

Rick Perry, attracting groupies at the last CPAC.

Greg’s pick: Jeff Sessions.

Most Honest Political Figure of 2014: Thomas Edsall of the New York Times, no conservative, wrote a column entitled, “Is Obamacare Destroying the Democratic Party?”

“As if Democrats do not already have enough trouble, data released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services shows that many, if not most, of the seven million people who purchased insurance through the A.C.A. will either have to pay higher premiums or higher deductibles, or submit themselves to the complex process of switching plans.”

Rising Political Star of 2014: A lot of good nominees in this category, I’m going to go with a twosome here in Virginia – Ed Gillespie coming so close in a  — whether he admits it or not, he’s the front-runner for the GOP gubernatorial nomination in 2017, he’s temperamentally probably a better fit for governor.

Also in Virginia, newly elected Congresswoman Barbara Comstock. She has a seriously conservative background (senior aide to Rep. Dan Burton, directing numerous investigations of Clinton-era scandals) who’s managed to win time and again in only slightly-Republican-leaning Virginia suburbs. I admit I’m a fan; Comstock was one of the first to tell the NR editors that the Kerry Spot was something special.

Fading into Oblivion: The easy pick is Obama as he slides into lame duck-hood, so I’ll skip him.

I think The New Republic is never quite going to be the same, and since a “vertically-integrated media entity” is kind of a generic identity, I’ll bet it closes its doors or ceases existence as a print publication sometime in the coming years. I say this with sadness; it’s a 100-year-old magazine, run into the ground by a dot-com bazilllionare who didn’t understand its purpose.

Worst Scandal of 2014: A lot of competition, but I’m going to go with the egregious mismanagement, dishonesty and oblivious leadership at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Best Political Theater of 2014: The debate moderator calling Colorado Senator Mark Udall “Mark Uterus” :

Worst Political Theater of 2014: Our seemingly endless budget showdowns, which never turn out particularly well for Republicans.

Best Idea of 2014: The increasingly intense price war in the oil market. Sure, OPEC is trying to drive down the cost of oil to the point where U.S. fracking is no longer cost-effective. And that’s something to keep an eye on in the long run. But for now this is good news for American consumers, and bad news for Iran, and terrible news for Russia. And in the future, if and when Saudi Arabia reverses cost decides to reduce the production and try to increase the cost, all of the U.S. fracking and shale development projects will become cost-effective again.

It’s a nice bit of relief for American consumers:

According to the Census Bureau, there are about 116 million households in the U.S., and if they all have $550 more to spend next year, it could mean a $63.8 billion boost for non-energy industries in 2015. Or if they choose to stash the cash instead, it could cause savings rates to go up, reducing debt in the economy and stabilizing personal finances. There are multiple potentially positive side effects of lower energy prices.

Worst Idea of 2014: I realize the Obama administration offers a lot of material here, but I think Obama’s reaction to the midterms – to double down, to ignore the reaction of the electorate, to feel “liberated” as Politico wrote, is an astonishingly arrogant and wrongheaded way for a president to respond to a rebuke from the American people.

Boldest Tactic of 2014: Cory Gardner’s three-level chess in the Colorado Senate primary, arranging for potential primary rival Ken Buck to run for another office ah and helping another potential primary rival, Amy Stephens, pay off past campaign debt.

Most Under-Reported Story of 2014: Any foreign policy problems or threat beyond the immediate moment of crisis. Ukraine, ISIS, Israel and Gaza, Boko Haram and those kidnapped girls – all of them dominated the news for a week or two, then slipped into the back pages or stopped being covered at all. To paraphrase Andy Warhol, in the future, every foreign policy crisis will be famous for fifteen minutes.

Most Over-Reported Story of 2014: For this one, I could pick any of the past year’s outrages du jour and these online mobs demanding somebody getting fired. The media frenzy over Elizabeth Lauten’s Facebook post about the Obama daughters is the best example of this.

Best story of 2014: Despite popular perceptions, the American divorce rate is going down.

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Strzok by a Farce

An investigation is one of two things: a search for the truth, or a farce. The House is conducting a farce. That fact was on full display during ten hours of testimony by Peter Strzok, the logorrheic lawman who steered the FBI’s Clinton-emails and Trump–Russia probes. The principal question before the ... Read More


Dear Reader (Especially everyone who got ripped off ordering that giant blimp online), Imagine an alien race that built its civilization on the fact it literally defecated highly refined uranium, or super-intelligent and obedient nano-bots, or simply extremely useful Swiss Army knives. Now imagine one of ... Read More
Film & TV

Stalin at the Movies

Toward the end of The Death of Stalin, two Communist Party bosses size up Joseph Stalin’s immediate successor, Georgy Malenkov. “Can we trust him?” one asks. “Can you ever really trust a weak man?” his comrade answers. Good question. Last week brought the news that the head of Shambhala ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Rise of the Abortion Cheerleaders

Is abortion a sad and unfortunate reality — regrettable, as we are sometimes told, but often necessary — or is it a breezy nothingburger, completely “normal,” and something to be giddily celebrated like a last-minute NFL touchdown?  For a long time, the abortion lobby has had difficulty deciding. This ... Read More

‘The Warning Lights Are Blinking Red Again’

One of President Trump’s outstanding appointments has been Dan Coats, his director of national intelligence. Coats is a former House member, former senator, and former ambassador to Germany. He is a Hoosier (i.e., from Indiana). Whether he plays basketball, I don’t know. At Wheaton College, he played soccer. ... Read More