The Top 10 Political Stories of 2011

A David Letterman-style countdown of the biggest events of 2011.

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It's traditional to release a list like this at the end of the year in question. But because the political climate is so volatile I didn't dare write this before the ball went down in Times Square. So without any further delay here is my top 10 list of the most important national political stories of 2011. As a tribute to David Letterman who is a big player in presidential politics, the list counts down from Nos. 10 to 1. The more important the event is, the less explanation it needs.

[See 2011: The Year in Cartoons.]

10. The passage of the National Defense Authorization Act which allows the military to detain American citizens who are terrorism suspects indefinitely without trial. Ignored by the media during 24/7 coverage of the Herman Cain sex circus, this was the most underreported story of the year. NDAA nullifies legal due process and the 4th and 5th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution without having to endure the pesky amendment process.

9. Former Gov. Mitt Romney takes on all comers in GOP race. The objective of a presidential nomination campaign is to survive, not win. And he didn't even need to kiss the Donald Trump's butt to remain the front-runner. If Romney becomes president will his vice president have to ride in a cage on top of the presidential limo?

[See a collection of political cartoons on the 2012 GOP hopefuls.]

8. The political sex circus continues with Weinergate exposing congressional corruption and Cain screwing up his own campaign. This was also the year that Arnold and Maria tore the sheets, but they might get back together. Does that mean there's hope for Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher? This shouldn't even be on my list but I'm weak like everybody else.

7. The withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Iraq ahead of schedule fulfilled President Barack Obama's campaign promises. The withdrawal also illustrates the danger of issuing these lists too early. The Associated Press released its Top 10 list early in December, so this crucial event did not make the wire service's list.

6. The overthrow of Muammar Qadhafi and Hosni Mubarak without the loss of even one American soldier is a striking contrast to Saddam Hussein's downfall in Iraq. The deadly dictators of Egypt and Libya went down without a single American casualty. Getting rid of Saddam cost the lives of 4,500 brave young Americans. Subtle diplomacy and a show of strength work better than a ham handed invasion.

[Read the U.S. News debate: Was The Iraq War Worth It?]

5. Occupy Wall Street puts national spotlight on corporate greed. Because of Occupy, Democrats finally worked up the courage to talk about corporate greed and the media worked up the courage to report the story.

4. The shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords which was the leading indicator of political divisiveness in the body politic.

3. Death of Osama Bin Laden is a big win in war on terrorism and may be the event that secures Barack Obama a second term.

2. Failure of deficit "supercommittee" illustrates gridlock in Washington.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the deficit super committee.]

1. And the number No. 1 national political story of the year (drumroll here) is a bad economy that leaves Americans in a lousy mood which will linger through next year.

They say that all's well that ends well, which certainly wasn't true in 2011.

  • Check out 2011: The Year in Cartoons
  • See a collection of political cartoons on the economy.
  • See pictures of Notable Deaths of 2011