The year 2013 was a roller coaster of contrasts with some surprises. Here’s a best and worst list:
The Worst Non Scandal, Self-Inflicted Political Damage: President Barack Obama. A new ABC News-Washington Post poll finds record numbers of Americans now disapprove of his job performance. The Post notes that these numbers are “all the more striking when compared with his standing a year ago, as he was preparing for his second inauguration after a solid reelection victory. That high note proved fleeting as the president faced a series of setbacks, culminating in the botched rollout of his Affordable Care Act two months ago.”
The Worse Use of Money by a Political Party: The money the Republican National Committee spent on a political “autopsy” after former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and the GOP were soundly defeated in the 2012 elections. Advice that the party should tip-toe towards the center and reach out to women, gays, and Latinos and harp less on social issues than far-right ideological dogma was totally ignored and the party seemingly moved further right.
Best Political Comeback: Rep. Paul Ryan. When he ran as Mitt Romney’s Veep, fact-checkers almost had to put in for workmen’s compensation documenting Ryan inaccuracies, which he’d nonetheless repeat in speeches. His presence on the ticket did little to help Romney. His role in a bipartisan budget compromise led analysts to paint him as an adult in the room not focused exclusively on ideology. He now seems inching back to a harder stand.
Worst Self-Inflicted Damage to a Political Party: No, it wasn’t the Republican government shutdown, a Ted Cruz Production. Democrats potentially suffered major long-term damage due to the disastrous Obamacare website rollout, coupled with Americans learning Obama wasn’t correct in saying they could keep their insurance, which battered the party’s argument that if Americans trusted government it could effectively improve their lives. Obama and the Democrats came out looking like they’d say anything to get health care reform and couldn’t administer it when they got it.