John McCaslin

Keith Olbermann and Ann Coulter an item?

So to speak. As 2008 draws to a close, it's time once again for the American Speaker's (now in its 17th year) annual Patrick Henry Awards for the best - and worst - public speakers of the year.

By way of credentials, the American Speaker is founded and edited by Aram Bakshian Jr., who served as a White House speechwriter for three presidents (Richard M. Nixon, Gerald R. Ford and Ronald Reagan, including being director of presidential speech writing during the Gipper's first term).

Without further ado, the Patrick Henry Award for the Most Effective Political Speaker this year is shared by Barack Obama and John McCain, who through their individual speaking strengths and weaknesses made the 2008 presidential race, in the words of the judges, a fascinating "speech lab."

Other 2008 award winners are Al Gore (Best Return From the Rhetorical Dead), Rush Limbaugh (Best Radio Talkmeister), Jim Lehrer (Best Network News Anchor), and Sarah Palin (Most Promising Speaking Debut).

A few of the more notable losers include 2008 Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards (Most Embarrassing Oratorical Mea Culpa), Eleanor Clift (Longest-Suffering Talking Head), and the otherwise odd adjoining of Mr. Olbermann and Miss Coulter (Twin Horrors of Broadcast Commentary).

The acerbic pair of pundits "would rather rant than be rational, and neither seems capable of exercising tolerance, restraint or simple civility," writes Mr. Bakshian. "Considered together, left-wing Olbermann and right-wing Coulter are proof that neither the left nor the right has a monopoly on rhetorical excess and simple rudeness.

"Someone should lock them in a soundproof room together."

BIG BAD WOLF

Speaking of familiar faces on the TV screen, CNN's Wolf Blitzer during the month of November anchored "The Situation Room" to the highest-rated broadcast in its entire three-hour time slot among cable news competition in the 25 to 54 age demographic, beating out competing shows hosted by Fox News' Brit Hume and MSNBC's Chris Matthews to name two.

According to Nielsen data, more viewers in the key demographic turned to Mr. Blitzer at 4 p.m., 5 p.m., and 6 p.m., than to any cable news program on the Fox News Channel or MSNBC.

WHAT'S THE HURRY?

Year by which New Orleans is expected to be rebuilt, at the current pace: 2028

-Harper's Index, December 2008

PALIN BEATS MCCAIN

The Top 10 Names of newsmakers overheard coast-to-coast in 2008, as determined by the Global Language Monitor:


John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on Townhall.com and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

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