Best and Worst From Election 2008

Worst candidates, best media commentators, clichés that need to go away, and more.

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Awww. Why not? There are award shows for everything else.

And so...to while away the final hours... 

The award for Worst Candidate in the 2008 Republican presidential race goes to...Rudy Giuliani. We knew he was going to chirp "9/11, 9/11, 9/11" like a nuthatch. But who knew he would run such an inept campaign? Or give such a selfish and mean-spirited convention speech? Or spend so much money on so few votes? Given the field (Tom Tancredo, Jim Gilmore, Duncan Hunter, Fred Thompson), winning this prize is no small achievement, but Rudy found ways to prevail.

On the Democratic side, the Worst Candidate award goes to John Edwards. Not just for losing. Not just for proudly declaring that "I was wrong" on so many crucial issues. And not just for getting caught in a tawdry coverup. (Imagine what would have happened to his party and his country had he won the nomination!) No, Edwards won this prize by cheating on his wife as she battled cancer. It was a creepy, low-rent thing to do.

The Mainstream Media Awards for commentary go to Peggy Noonan on the conservative side and to Gail Collins, Joe Klein, and Frank Rich for the libs.

It was, all in all, a good year for the gals, what with Hillary Clinton to muse on, and Ruth Marcus and Maureen Dowd joined Collins and Noonan in making us wince and chuckle throughout the primary season.

It was a good year for conservative pundits, too, as George F. Will, Christopher Buckley, Pat Buchanan, David Gergen, and others maintained their intellectual integrity, unlike...say...Bill Kristol.

On the tube, guess what—Katherine Anne Couric shined. We'll not soon forget David Letterman's rantings about John McCain or Tina Fey's impersonation of Sarah Palin or the Obama-lovin' boys at MSNBC.

The best new faces, hands down, were Rachel Maddow and Eugene Robinson—and Jeffrey Toobin at CNN, who was never afraid to blurt out that the emperor had no clothes—and the talented Timothy Egan, blogging for the NYT.

And yes, I loved it when Ross Douthat had the honesty to admit, loudly and on camera, to an American Enterprise Institute audience that his prescription for the Republican Party's comeback sounds more than a little like...well...fascism.

And John King had his really cool magic board thing going at CNN.

The Most Interesting Senate Seatmates will arrive from Virginia. If I were president, I would run any major policy decision past Mark Warner and Jim Webb. If they salute, then take it, with confidence, to the country.

Clichés That Need a Rest: Please, don't let us hear, for at least two years, the phrases "campaign narrative," "double-down," "Bradley effect," "3 a.m. phone call," "hockey mom," "change," or "Joe the Plumber."

The Worst Panderer Award is shared by John McCain and four of the Republican presidential contenders, who bowed to the religious right and agreed that the biblical myth of Genesis may be taught in public school science classes as an equally plausible "alternative" to Darwin's theory of evolution.

Sarah Palin gets a bye, because she actually believes that Fred and Dino were alive together.

There was a fierce competition for the Most Promising Newcomer Award on the national political scene, what with Mike Huckabee's delightful candidacy, Brian Schweitzer's speech at the Democratic convention, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz's witty guest spots on the TV talk shows.

But ultimately, this award comes down to a fight between Sarah Palin and Barack Obama.

The Alaska governor must be the runner-up—but only, perhaps, because she was thrown, unprepared, into the shark tank of presidential politics. With study and preparation and a record of achievement in Alaska, she'll give Mitt Romney fits in 2012.

The winner, of course, is Obama.

The next president (we're thinking) of the United States.

  • Click here to read more by John Aloysius Farrell.
  • Click here to read more about Campaign 2008.