Welcome to the fifth and final installment of the Scholars & Rogues year-end wrap-up. Today we tackle the dirty, but oddly riveting world of politics. We’ll take a couple shots at the even dirtier world of media that makes it all possible. Let’s start at the top, shall we?
George Walker Bush: I’ve been telling my Republican friends for five years now that Dubya was going to do more damage to their party than an army of Hillarys could dream of doing. And 2007 was the year where I think the truth of this proposition finally started becoming evident. Scandals at the Justice Department and World Bank did him no favors, nor did the conviction of Scooter Libby (which necessitated the most politically debilitating pardon/commutation sequence since Ford saved Nixon). Iraq got worse by the day and we’re not seeing a lot of GOP presidential hopefuls looking to surf that Bush legacy.
Many people are saying he’s the worst president ever. I can’t make that claim because I’m not really a presidential scholar and there’s a lot I don’t know about a lot of past presidents. He’s certainly the worst in my lifetime, and from what I can tell you have to go all the way back to Hoover to even get a good argument going on the subject.
History isn’t going to be kind to George Bush, and 2007 was just the beginning.
The Dick: Most days it seems like the only reason he hasn’t been impeached is because the Democrats saw how the GOP hounded the Clintons. I think they feel like impeachment would be taken as a purely partisan act, and a lot of them are sifting through their own closets and realizing that the last thing they want is to make impeachment seem like an acceptable thing to do. But maybe I’m just being cynical.
Here’s what we know. Scooter Libby didn’t think that shit up all by himself. And it’s almost impossible to imagine that a thorough, honest, hard-charging investigation could avoid exploring treason. And by “thorough, honest, hard-charging,” I’m suggesting that we should throw at least as much at the outing of a CIA operative as we would at, say, a land deal gone bad, mmmkay?
So, President Bush Commuted the Perjury Sentence for Scooter Libby: We learned in History of the World, Part 1 that it’s good to be da king. If you can’t be da king, we now know that next best thing is to be the guy who has evidence against da king.
Alberto Gonzales: We once figured you had to be pretty damned smart to be Attorney General. Turns out you don’t even have to be smart enough to remember your own name.
Mike Mukasey: You don’t have to be able to recognize that Spanish Inquisition techniques constitute torture, either.
2007 wasn’t just about The Dubya & The Dick Show, though. There were all these people lining up auditioning to replace Mr. Bush.
Hillary Clinton: We’re not sure what tells you more about Hillary – her Bush-wannabe stance on Iraq or her taste in campaign theme songs. Neither has us 100% in love with her vison for America, though.
Barack Obama: In our minds the defining moment of his campaign so far isn’t his Obama/Oprah in 2008 Tour or his alleged stances on the issues. No, it’s Chris Dodd busting his ass to prevent a blanket retroactive grant of immunity to telecoms for what look like serious violations of the law while Barack continues smiling for the cameras on the Campaign Trail. He likes to talk about real change, but in what way, exactly, is this a change?
John Edwards: He’s going about it wrong, but he’s the only candidate among the frontrunners who’s willing to talk about some of the real issues facing American families.
Rudy Giuliani: Thanks to Rudy, we now know that mistresses are only a bad thing when Democrats have them.
Mike Huckabee: Preacher-in-Chief wannabe had a great 2007 – out of nowhere to legit threat. He’s got a tough road ahead, though. There seem to be all kinds of things in his past that he might not want to talk about, like some positively Spears-esque parenting missteps that should give pause to his Christian followers. And that’s just the start.
John McCain: [sigh] What might have been. Will the defining moment of his career boil down to a badly rendered performance of “Bomb Iran”?
John Fitzgerald Mitt Romney: JFK once gave a famous speech designed to convince Protestants that it would be okay to elect him, a Catholic, because he’d protect the separation of church and state. Drawing on that precedent, Romney gave a speech designed to assure people that it would be okay to elect him, a Mormon, because he’d ignore the separation of church of state.
Fred Thompson: Wow. In a few months he went from “the next Ronald Reagan” to a guy who’d kill for Ron Paul’s numbers.
Ron Paul: We think there are tremendous problems with Mr. Paul’s record and platform, but you have to give credit where credit is due. His supporters are simply rabid, and there’s always a value in having a legion of backers who aren’t willing to let anything get in the way. Like facts, for instance.
Mike Gravel: Old guy got mad skilz. Next year look for a collaboration with Jay-Z.
Dennis Kucinich: Went on Colbert and revealed that his pockets contain a rip in the space/time continuum, allowing him to store a veritable warehouse of stuff. And by the way, how do you look like that and score a wife who looks like this? He’s like the Ric Ocasek of politics.
We don’t have time to tackle all the fun stuff that happened on the politics and media front this year, but there are a few things we’d like to observe in passing.
Nancy Pelosi Became the First Woman Speaker of the House: Then promptly makes us wonder what we thought the difference was going to be.
Harry Reid Became First Woman Senate Majority Leader: And promptly made us wish for the kind of strong, masculine leadership that Pelosi is providing across the hall.
The Wild Willy Follies! Starring Larry Craig, Ted Haggard and David Vitter: In Act 1 of our Republican morality play we learn that diddling hookers is bad, but not fatal, so long as they’re chicks. In Act 2 it is revealed that diddling “escorts” is bad, and exceedingly fatal, if they’re packing the same equipment you are. So remember, preachers and GOPlayas, before stepping out on the missus, be sure to conduct a thorough anatomy check.
News that Sen. Vitter patronized the DC Madam raises a really important question: is there any low to which a prostitute won’t stoop? (By they way, Mr. Vitter has now discovered that “I’m a Republican Congressman from Louisiana” isn’t technically a valid plea.) Like most Americans, though, I’m just grateful that Dick Cheney wasn’t involved. The thought of him attempting to roger something both human and alive makes me want to take a brillo pad to my eyeballs.
Scott McClellan on the Road to Damascus: “So I stood at the White house briefing room podium in front of the glare of the klieg lights for the better part of two weeks and publicly exonerated two of the senior-most aides in the White House: Karl Rove and Scooter Libby. There was one problem. It was not true. I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice President, the Presidentâ€™s chief of staff, and the president himself.” Scotty, we’re looking forward to your book and we hope it helps put some richly deserving criminals where they belong. But there’s one little problem with your story. We knew you were lying. If you didn’t, you’re either a raging moron or a man of “tremendous faith.”
Katie Couric: Amidst much controversy, took over Cronkite’s old chair. Has since revolutionized broadcast journalism by offering hard-hitting analysis and relentless critiques of high government corruption. Oh, wait a second – no, that was Keith Olbermann.
Don Imus: Some ill-conceived comments on his radio show destroyed his career for a few months. But now he’s back, all rehabilitated and swearing that it’ll never happen again. To make sure it won’t happen again he’s surrounding himself with all the people who made it happen in the first place.
We hope 2007 was good to you and that 2008 will be even better. Our resolution is to make Scholars & Rogues an even better source of analysis and insight in the coming year, which is going to be a big one, especially here in the US. We invite you to make us part of your everyday reading list and join in when we say something interesting.
Happy New Year.