The Best and Worst of 2008

The 2008 cycle was like the Energizer Bunny .


The 2008 cycle was like the Energizer Bunny ... It kept going, and going, and going. So there’s plenty to pick over in our search for the best and worst political moves of 2008. Here are my faves.The Worst… 1. Bill Clinton in South Carolina: Even diehard Dems who supported him through the impeachment cringed at some of his offensive remarks. 2. Democrat leaders’ handling of the primary: Yes, things usually sort themselves out—but Howard Dean should have used a calm, steady hand to steer the ship. Instead, the convention in Denver was, by and large, a bloody mess of disunified foot soldiers. 3. Barack Obama’s VP announcement: After all the hoop-la that the first people to know would be the ones who signed up for the campaign’s text message alert, the news leaked the night before. So the McCain campaign was able to start attacking Biden’s record even before Obama’s official announcement. 4. Sarah Palin’s rollout: It’s possible there’s a better example of a candidate mangling an introduction to voters. But I can’t think of one. 5. John Edwards’ crisis management: After endless denials, Edwards actually made things worse in a “come clean” ABC interview by not actually apologizing. Nice. (Note to self—next time I visit my lover and our child in a hotel, don’t wall myself in a bathroom to hide from reporters.) 6. John McCain’s campaign suspension: Sure, a few voters bought into the stunt. For about a minute. 7. Rudy Giuliani’s decision to solely campaign in Florida: ‘Nuff said.The Best… 1. John McCain’s VP announcement: His masterful timing was soon forgotten as Palin’s candidacy crumbled before our eyes. But announcing the Palin pick the morning after Obama’s Invesco speech stomped hard on the Democrats’ convention bounce. 2. Kay Hagan’s response to Elizabeth Dole’s “godless” ad: After Dole compared her opponent to “godless Americans,” Hagan—a Sunday School teacher—did a straight-to-camera ad that managed to be direct, personal and professional all at once. 3. Paris Hilton’s video: (No, not THAT video!) After McCain mocked her in a TV ad, the heiress quickly created a smart, funny web spot that both responded to McCain’s put-downs and offered up a serious energy plan. 4. Hillary Clinton at the Democratic Convention: Before her speech, Clinton indicated to a scrum of reporters that she was less than excited about the week. Later that night, she gave one of the best speeches of her career. She followed up by meeting with her delegates and urging them to vote for Obama. And during the final roll-call vote, she electrified the convention by walking onto the floor and moving that Obama be declared the party’s nominee by acclamation. It takes elephant skin to survive in politics, and Clinton demonstrated she’s got that in spades. 5. Hillary’s 3 a.m. ad: If imitation is the best form of flattery, look no further than Mandy Grunwald’s red phone ad. 6. McCain ratcheting down the rhetoric: In October, as some attendees at Republican campaign rallies started to shout “kill him!” when Obama’s name was mentioned, McCain took the mic from a woman who said Obama was an Arab. After correcting her, he called Obama a “decent person and a person you don’t have to be scared of as president of the United States,” and urged supporters to tone down their rhetoric. The move reminded us that, for at least one senator, honor is not just a campaign slogan. 7. Obama’s race speech: Rather than ignoring the elephant in the room, Obama gave a smart, thoughtful speech about where race relations stand right now. Very classy. Ok, your turn! Add your picks by commenting below!Christie Findlay is editor-in-chief at Politics magazine. cfindlay@politicsmagazine.com


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