What a year! So many debacles to choose from. What was the criteria for this list, you ask? Just whatever we geeked out on the most this past year in the Press Pool. Our rule: If politicians can’t be honest, they should at least be entertaining. Herewith, 2013’s top political stories of the year:
10. Mark Sanford elected to Congress
The former governor of South Carolina apologized to voters for his extramarital affair, hugging and weeping his way into a seat in Congress. Who says there are no second chances?
9. Congressman Trey Radel busted for cocaine buy
Oh, congressman! The Florida Republican tried to put the “party” in tea party. But after his arrest, he quickly exited Washington for a stint in rehab. He announced plans to stay in Congress, while serving out his probation.
8. Gay rights advances through states and courts
The U.S. Supreme Court was long overdue for a drag show on the front steps. They got one in 2013.
7. White House foreign policy success and blunders: Iran, Syria, Egypt and more
A sometimes incoherent foreign policy is costing the administration friends and credibility, but a potential deal with Iran could be a legacy item for President Obama.
6. The 2016 presidential contenders
Sen. Ted Cruz read “Green Eggs and Ham” on the floor of the Senate during a faux-libuster on something we’ve already forgotten. Gov. Chris Christie won re-election in New Jersey, Sen. Rand Paul got popped for plagiarizing some speeches. The challenge for all of these guys is to keep us entertained until 2016. It’s a good start.
5. Carlos Danger
Anthony Weiner (and let’s be inclusive, Eliot Spitzer) saw what Mark Sanford was able to pull off and tried to launch their own political comebacks. Maybe they didn’t dispense enough hugs. Weiner went from front-runner to flame-out in just a few months. Spitzer never really took off.
4. Do-nothing Congress
Anyone can have an off year, but Congress found new lows in its inability to do much more than hold press conferences and pull stunts. Eventually public disfavor seems to have penetrated, and they ended the year with a budget deal more symbolic than substantive — but it’s something.
3. Edward Snowden
The former NSA contractor’s bizarre flight from the U.S., lengthy residency in a Russian airport transit lounge and successive revelations about the government surveillance state held our attention all year. Will reforms follow? Maybe.
2. Government shutdown
What a circus. No one emerged improved from the ridiculous shutdown of government operations from Oct. 1 to Oct. 16 in 2013, but Republicans bore the brunt of public censure.
“When it came to the healthcare rollout,” President Obama said at his year-end presser, “obviously we screwed it up.” Ya think? The debacle cost the Democrats the political advantage they scored after the shutdown, and cost the president credibility among his own supporters.
Here’s hoping they all get their act together in 2014, but not so much that we run out of things to talk about. Join us daily in the Press Pool weekdays from 3-6 pm ET on POTUS, Ch. 124, and follow Julie on Twitter @Juliemason.