Since then, the year-in-review has become a staple of publications major and minor, Nobody took a break when the year deserved it – say, 1977 or 1986. Every year takes its moment in the sun as the Year That Was, complete with predictions and trends for the new year. Unqualified, self-appointed first-draft "historians" cast their wise gaze backwards; prognosticators prognosticate forward. All is forgotten by the first week in January, as fate, nature and trends collide to expose the next group of befuddled leaders and the next group of trapped and injured victims and voters.
I turned 13 in 1968; my son turned 13 in 2007. I watched the revolution on TV, hosted by Walter Cronkite. In 2007, he watched...The Daily Show (until the strike, anyway). That’s about what 2007 was worth, anyway – a transitory joke, a truly tedious exercise in just-getting-by.
Some awards, for what they – and the year itself – are worth:
PR Stunt of the Year: The Surge
Faced with the complete rejection of his policies and his presidency in the 2006 elections, Junior Bush’s handlers managed at least to save time (but certainly no money) for its disastrous occupation of Iraq by throwing 50,000 more troops into the civil war to provide "stability" for a corrupt bunch of Iraqi politicians who had no intention of seizing the opportunity. The result was a thousand more dead soldiers, tens of thousands more maimed soldiers, countless more dead and injured Iraqi civilians and at least $200 billion more borrowed money right out the window. The most dramatic "successes" in Iraq were a result of giving entire areas, such as Anbar province, over to local militias, who then used our money and guns to extract their tribal vengeance. No surprise there – that’s how Saddam did it. All this does is kick the can out to 2009, so Bush’s successor has to deal with the complexity and pain of withdrawal from that hell-hole. For those cynical war criminals, mission accomplished.
Spin of the Year: Low Approval for Congress
As soon as Democrats took over Congress in 2007, the Republicans made sure that nothing of significance would be passed or become law. To no one’s surprise, the resulting gridlock did not sit well with the American people, who thought they had sent a message in the 2006 elections for positive change. The GOP and their echo-chamber on mainstream radio gleefully trumpeted the resulting low-approval numbers for Congress – lower than Bush! It was impossible for anyone not on the GOP direct or indirect payroll to get a word in edge-wise about why Congress was unable to move – the unprecedented permanent filibuster employed by the minority Senate Republicans. It’s not like the supposedly-liberal MSM did anything to make this clear – like all spin, the spinner relies on the ignorance of the target audience and the reluctance of the MSM to clear anything up, lest they be accused of, well, you know, unfairly setting the record straight.
Mainstream Radio Wing-Nut of the Year: Charlie Sykes
With Don Imus nationally (and temporarily) and Jessica McBride locally (and permanently, we can hope) biting the radio stardust during 2007 due to various racist (Imus) and stupid (McBride) stunts on their radio shows, Sykes managed to survive his own various outrages as the strangely-protected darling of the Bradley Foundation and the Journal Company. The apparently bullet-proof Sykes got away with the following, at least:
- Sykes accused pre-arrest Michael McGee Jr. of saying that "Jew cops" were out to get him, when it was clear McGee actually said "Jude cops", referring to the infamous cops who beat up Frank Jude. Sykes mustered an insincere apology the next day, only after the Journal Sentinel got hold of it.
- During the Imus imbroglio, Sykes called civil rights leader Al Sharpton a "pimp", as racist a word used against strong black men as "ho’s" is against black women. My post on the subject was ignored.
- Sykes came out boldly in favor of equating the Muslim faith with Naziism, posting and then snidely defending a parody of the (now more) popular COEXIST bumper-sticker. "Shame on you," the shameless wing-nut shouted to the Interfaith Council that had the audacity to write a letter to the Sainted One complaining about his selective religious intolerance.
Apparently, Sykes has a hands-off deal with his employer, at least as far as his racist and otherwise offensive substance goes. "I stand by Charlie’s response," his radio GM said when faced with the COEXIST business. We’ll see if this sort of blind support survives Sykes’ ratings battle with third-rate squawker Jay Weber, whose lame bleatings on WISN are apparently challenging Sykes in his time slot. I mean, shouldn't one of the 50 Rules be that, if you can't even attract more Angry White Men than a Neanderthal like Weber, you have to leave the building?
Dark Omen of the Year: Annette Zeigler
By single-handedly getting the ethically-challenged Zeigler elected to the Wisconsin Supreme Court this past April, the right-wing front-group disguised as a business-interest group, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC), showed that it would use its considerable resources to manipulate the Court and any other entity that might stand in its fevered way. After being rejected by more qualified jurists, WMC recruited obscure Burnett County (that’s way in the northwest corner of the state) judge Michael Gableman to run against Louis Butler for his seat on the Supremes.
Early indications of how WMC will roll in this spring 2008 election indicate that their success with Zeigler has led them to believe that "anything goes". Recently, the long-time GOP shill "advising" Gableman’s campaign, Darrin Schmitz, said "Louis Butler and his allies cannot hide the fact that he consistently sides with criminals over law enforcement." This type of false flaming was properly criticized by the State Bar’s Judicial Campaign Integrity Committee as out-of-bounds for a judicial candidate. The committee was advised to "get over it" by well-paid GOP flack Brian Fraley on his blog and by Rick "As-long-as-my-side-does-it-it’s-OK" Esenberg. (What would Esenberg say if Butler or someone on his campaign called out Gableman as a WMC stooge? You would be able to hear the squealing all the way to Burnett County.) Fraley would be well advised to remember the Rove strategy of keeping the candidate above the fray, while surrogates like him spew the venom. Especially in a judicial race, where the rules really are – and should be – different.
Full disclosure: I am a good friend and contributor of Louis Butler. Now let’s see Fraley and Esenberg disclose their interests.
Legal Outrage Top 10: My favorite legal writer, Dahlia Lithwick, lays out the Worst of Bush in Slate.
With the Iowa caucuses rolling up on Friday, 2007 will be forgotten within the week. Who knows where we will be a year from now? It will be interesting and important to watch. My New Year’s Resolution: More and better posts in 2008.