Tuesday, January 02, 2007

2006 Awards Section

I know. I'm late on this. I figure until the house meets its suitable to do a best of 2006 section. This gives me lots of time. That said, on with the show:

Person of the Year: Calm down Soledad O'Brien, its not You. Unlike Time Magazine I will not duck the issue. The All Politics is Local Person of the Year is: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. This is kind of like naming Hitler person of the year. I do it not because he did anything positive but because of how profoundly negative his impact has been over the last year. Ignoring the successful publicity stunt that was the Holocaust Conference, Ahmadinejad has had a remarkable year. The two largest war stories of the year can both be traced back to his country. The Shiite insurgency in Iraq owes much of its funding to Iran. Hezbollah is also well funded by Tehran. In both cases the funding has paid off for Iran. The Israelis left Lebanon with no real positive results and the Americans continue to die pointlessly in Iraq. The "Western dogs" were shown to be weak and unable to get results. Ahmadinejad must be thrilled. In a year of great failure, Ahmadinejad has been almost solely successful, for that, he is my Person of the Year.

Political Play of the Year: This is tough. I could give this to Stephane Dion for his surprise win of the Liberal Leadership. I could give this award to Stephen Harper. He did get the first Conservative electoral victory in 18 years. However, Harper's success was more due to what the Liberals did. He just stood there looking outraged and promising soft nationalists the moon. As for Dion, a senior cabinet minister winning leadership is just not as impressive as what my winner did. No, I'm going outside the country for this one. My Play of the Year goes to Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean. Dean's fifty state strategy was mocked openly by pundits, but lo an behold it worked. Democrats seized control of both houses by running hard in all fifty states. Democrats won senate seats in Virginia, Montana and Missouri. Perhaps most astonishingly they almost won house seats in the reddest of red states: Idaho and Wyoming. The Republicans were forced to spend money defending what they thought at the outset were safe seats. Dean proved that he is pretty darn good at connecting to voters. Too bad about the scream, he'd make a great President.

Political Turkey of the Year: Apologies to CNN for the term. I come back home for this one. The establishment of the Liberal Party of Canada gets the Turkey of the Year award. They started 2006 doing damage control over beer and popcorn. They then failed to get any part of the Liberal platform (which wasn't bad if you read it) across to the voting public and lost the election to Stephen Harper. Defeated at the polls the party's old guard looked to find a new leader. Apparently no Canadian Liberal suited their taste so they looked outside the Liberal box and found Michael Ignatieff and Bob Rae. The two played old Liberal games. Rae decided the campaign wasn't about ideas and therefore never espoused any. Ignatieff did his best Paul Martin impression: dithering away support all the way to the convention. The back room boys then lost the convention. Martin, Ignatieff, Rae. Three strikes and you're out! I didn't even mention Joe Volpe.

Surprise Person of the Year: This one is easy: Stephane Dion. Who would have thought that the former public enemy of Quebec would become leader of the Liberal Party of Canada. Not only that, but he did it on small donations, good ideas and grassroots support. That used to be a prescription for an honourable last place finish (see Martha Hall-Findlay). Instead Dion took the convention and the leadership. A shocker if there ever was one.

Biggest Disappointment of the Year: I don't know how disappointed I should be with her but the award goes to Rona Ambrose. Shooting fish in the barrel, I know. The soon to be ex-Minister of the Environment (if you believe the press) has failed miserably in her job. Apparently knowing something about the portfolio should be a prerequisite for doing the job. What a shock! Her Clean Air initiative was a flop of New Coke proportions. Unfortunately for Stephen Harper he doesn't have Clean Air classic to mollify the angry voters. Of all the Conservative cabinet ministers she seemed the most human. She proved nothing but incompetent.

Most Overreported Story: The two-way race for the Liberal Leadership. Ignatieff and Rae? Give me a break. The media's obsession with this college reunion was sickening. Thank God Liberal delegates shut them up.

Most Underreported Story: I could go with the entire Gerard Kennedy campaign but it would sound like sour grapes. Instead I'm going with Martin's 50/50 plan for post-secondary education. This is probably the best policy initiative the Liberals have had in years. I think it is more important to the success of the country than even public daycare or Kyoto. It would have given opportunity to thousands of students to have access to post-secondary education and therefore more job options. The media ignored it and instead went crazy over the bread and circuses offered up by the Conservatives. If Jeffery Simpson wants to know how to solve the productivity problem he should look no further. M. Dion, please, put this in your first budget.

I'm trying to get in touch with the spirits of Prime Minister King's mother and dog. When I do, I'll post my predictions for 2007.

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