The Seven Biggest Political Blunders of 2008

3) There are two Americas: one where John Edwards is faithful to his wife and the real one: John Edwards cynically exploited his wife's cancer to help his campaign. At one point, the campaign was even "sending fundraising emails out to the people who sent sympathy notes to Elizabeth because of her cancer." Meanwhile, in the background, the National Enquirer was alleging that Edwards had been running around behind his cancer-stricken wife's back.

So, you're one of the most prominent Democrats in the country, you're likely to get a high-profile job if Obama wins, and the Enquirer has started following you around -- what do you do? If you answered, "Tell the woman you're having an affair with to meet you in a hotel room and bring along your love child," your name may be John Edwards.

After the story broke in the Enquirer, Edwards eventually came forward and managed to actually increase the public's interest in the story by telling all sorts of wildly implausible tales about the baby not being his, a supporter paying his mistress without his knowledge -- and by claiming that Elizabeth had known about the affair since 2006.

This whole imbroglio probably cost Edwards a cherry position in the Obama administration and ruined his political career for years to come.

2) Hillary and Sinbad face sniper fire together in Bosnia: Prominent Democrats are used to having the press ignore or even cover up the most egregious lies and distortions, so it probably never occurred to Hillary that she might get called on her lies about Bosnia. However, in this case, the media had already started swooning for Barack Obama and so they gave Hillary the "Republican treatment" to help him out.

Soon, it was revealed that her “dangerous” diplomatic mission had also "included 15-year-old daughter Chelsea, the comedian Sinbad, and singer Sheryl Crow."

To top it all off, Hillary's claim that they "ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base" was refuted by pictures of her being read a poem by an eight-year-old girl on the airport tarmac. It was a particularly humiliating episode and it helped prevent Hillary from making a comeback on Obama.

1) McCain bails out the banks and sinks his campaign: Given how bad the environment was for Republicans in 2008, McCain had to run an outstanding campaign to have a chance to pull out a victory. Contrary to conventional wisdom, which says that he ran a terrible race all along, McCain was actually in good shape right after the GOP convention and had the financial crisis not occurred, it's entirely possible that he would have become the next president of the United States.

However, McCain was awful on the economy and his numbers started to go south after the mortgage crisis hit the news daily. However, it was the way that he handled the bailout that delivered the real coup de grâce to his campaign.

Here's a man who had spent an entire year telling people that he was a financial conservative, that he wasn't another George Bush, and that Barack Obama couldn't handle a crisis.

So, an unpopular bailout comes up for consideration on Capitol Hill and McCain handles the crisis exactly the same way that Obama did, by signing on to George Bush's $700 billion bailout deal that fiscal conservatives hated with a white hot passion.

In other words, in one fell swoop, John McCain managed to alienate conservatives, prove he really was "another Bush," and show the American people that Obama could handle a crisis just as well as he could. It was an extraordinary blunder -- one that literally may have been the deciding factor in the race for the presidency.