The Seven Biggest Political Blunders of 2008
From Spitzer to Edwards to Blagojevich, there were barely enough dunce caps to go around.
December 30, 2008 - 12:00 am
7) The punditocracy goofs up the Granite State: Because it’s not fair to just pick on the politicians, it’s worth remembering that this campaign season had an enormous number of twists and turns that proved pundits, pollsters, and “political experts” of all stripes wrong again and again.
The biggest of these foul-ups was in New Hampshire’s Democratic primary, which almost everybody thought was going to go Barack Obama’s way. That would have been incredibly significant because after his victory in Iowa, a follow-up win in New Hampshire might have convinced Hillary Clinton to bow out early and thereby prevented the months of fratricidal political warfare that followed between the two campaigns.
Instead, the punditocracy blew the call and the world got to see that political “experts” get it wrong just as often as economic “experts,” government “experts,” and climate “experts.”
6) That’s not what a state attorney general is supposed to do to a call girl: Even if he has the morals of Bill Clinton, any governor should be leery of using the services of a call girl for very obvious reasons — and that should have been doubly so for a guy like Eliot Spitzer.
He was a former New York State attorney general who had a reputation for zealously pursuing high-profile prosecutions. So, when you set yourself up as a crusader who loves to get headlines for putting the bad guys away, you can’t expect any mercy if you get caught sleeping with a high-dollar prostitute behind your wife’s back.
Spitzer may have been the governor of New York, but his former job and his inability to keep his pants up turned his exploits with Ashley Alexandra Dupré into a national scandal.
5) Blago fog-o: Illinois has a reputation for being somewhere between New Jersey and Louisiana on the corruption scale and current Governor Rod Blagojevich lived down to his state’s reputation.
Peddling a Senate seat is certainly crooked, but it probably wouldn’t have been a huge national scandal had that barely used seat not belonged to President-elect Barack Obama. Suddenly, an Illinois scandal turned into a national game of “what did Obama and his staff know and when did they know it?”
That question hasn’t been authoritatively answered as of yet, but America has had its first real reminder of what it means to have a Democrat in office; the president-elect hasn’t even taken over yet and he has already been interviewed by prosecutors in a corruption case.
4) I did not have ministerial relations with that man!: Had Barack Obama not been treated with kid gloves on this particular issue by the media, the Clintons, and the McCain campaign because of his race, it could have potentially destroyed his campaign.
Obama spent 20 years going to a virulently anti-white, anti-American church run by a conspiracy mongering lunatic, continued his membership even as he ran for president, and then pointedly branded his own grandmother as a racist in the very same speech in which he refused to denounce Jeremiah Wright.
Believe it or not, Obama did eventually throw Wright under the bus — not for insulting white people, insulting America, or tossing out lunatic conspiracy theories about AIDS, but for saying something insulting about him.
The way this was handled just highlights the fact that Obama isn’t a brilliant politician; he’s just a man who happened to be lucky enough to take the Democratic nomination in a year when even George McGovern, Mike Dukakis, or Walter Mondale probably could have cruised to victory.