Let's face it: if you're conservative, you're not going to get your proper due from the mainstream media for your accomplishments. Case in point: Barbara Walters named Michelle Obama the most fascinating person of 2009. Really? Based on what? Her big arms? Her terrible fashion sense? The fact that she's married to the worst President in American history? I mean, you could understand if Walters named Michelle's husband the most fascinating person of 2009. He is at least the President and it is fascinating to wonder if there's anything going on in his head beyond clichés about hope and "must read teleprompter" repeated over and over. Of course, Barack Obama was Barbara Walters’ most fascinating person of 2008. Wonder who'll be next in 2010? Joe or Jill Biden? In any case, just in case no one else does it, I want to give a little credit where credit is due to some of the conservatives who made a real difference in 2009.
The Honorary Mentions
10) Andrew Breitbart: Andrew Breitbart has really come into his own this year. He now has two huge successful blogs: Big Hollywood and Big Government -- with Big Journalism soon to come. Breitbart was also instrumental in getting James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles' outstanding reporting about ACORN into the hands of the public. Conservatives could use another dozen media entrepreneurs like Breitbart.
9) Marco Rubio: When the establishment Republicans at the NRSC coronated Charlie Crist with their endorsement, many people figured it was over for Marco Rubio. Crist was a popular, ideologically ambiguous Florida governor with a penchant for fundraising while Rubio was merely a young, charismatic conservative leader who was reaching out to conservatives. A few months later, after some aggressive campaigning by Rubio, he's done the cover of National Review, he's headlining CPAC, and he's already tied with Crist. This race in Florida isn't just about Rubio and Crist; it's about who runs things in the Republican Party: the conservative base or the sort of elitists in charge at the NRSC. Rubio's waving the banner for the base and he's going to win.
8) Rush Limbaugh: It goes without saying that Limbaugh makes a big splash on the radio, but has a radio host ever been such a pivotal player that a presidential administration treated him as a huge threat? Perhaps the fact that Rush's ratings went up while the Obama Administration targeted him might explain why fighting with radio hosts is usually something Presidents avoid. If only Obama had as much enthusiasm for going after terrorists as he did for going after conservatives like Rush Limbaugh, we'd have the war on terror won in no time.
7) Jim DeMint: Nobody in the Senate has been more true to conservative ideals or fought harder against the Obama Administration than Jim DeMint. He has no official leadership post and lot of establishment Republicans curse his name, but in the fight against socialism, DeMint is the guy who always seems to be on the front lines trying to encourage other Republicans to follow him into battle.
6) Carrie Prejean: Carrie Prejean never sought to involve herself in the battle over gay marriage when she entered the Miss USA contest, but after being asked a question about the subject and politely stating her opposition, she was thrust into the spotlight. Many people might think a bikini model with racy pics and "sex tapes" in her past might make a poor spokesman on an issue -- and they may be right. However, the extraordinarily vile, over-the-top and perverted attacks on Carrie Prejean by gay marriage supporters fully revealed an extremely ugly side of a movement that too many Americans falsely view as victims. Prejean's respectful courage under fire in difficult circumstances helped make that possible and she deserves to be honored for standing up, not kicked under a bus.
5) Dick Cheney: There was a time when former Presidents and Vice-Presidents stayed away from the political arena out of respect for the men who followed them in office, but after years of meddling by Jimmy Carter, Al Gore, and Bill Clinton, Dick Cheney has decided that if the rules don't apply for Democrats, they shouldn't apply for Republicans either. Cheney has not only done an excellent job of defending the Bush Administration's foreign policy, he has also been an extremely effective critic of the Obama Administration's poorly thought-out national security decisions. Americans should be grateful that there's still a Vice-President who's serious about defending America from attack. Too bad he's not the VP who's in the White House.
4) Sarah Palin: Quitting her job as governor of Alaska may turn out to be a mistake, but if it is, at least Sarah Palin is making the most of it. Her book tour was a tremendous success, not only in the book-selling department, but in repairing her image. Moreover, she was one of the most effective Republican voices in the health care debate and in an innovative move, she did it from her Facebook page. If Sarah Palin can be as successful in 2010 and 2011 as she was in 2009, we may be calling her President Palin in 2012.
3) Glenn Beck: Beck's ratings exploded in 2012 -- and no wonder. He has a unique charismatic style and he has become one of the Obama Administration's most fierce and effective critics. He created his own 9/12 movement, did a comedy tour, blistered ACORN, and knocked off Obama czar Van Jones. It has been a big year for Beck and hopefully, there will be more big years to come.
2) James O'Keefe & Hannah Giles: Who would have ever thought that a couple of kids in ridiculous outfits would end up doing the best reporting since Woodward and Bernstein? O'Keefe and Giles posed as a prostitute and pimp trying to set up a child prostitution racket, and they managed to get ACORN employees in at least 6 cities to help them out on hidden camera. The resulting scandal badly tarnished ACORN's reputation, cost it a considerable amount of money, and made it so radioactive as an organization that it made it into a South Park episode. If O'Keefe & Giles were liberals who had targeted conservatives this successfully, they'd be getting fawning mentions in the media, Pulitzers, and their own hokey, romanticized made-for-TV movie -- and they'd deserve it all.
1) The Tea Party Movement: Is it fair to choose a growing, thriving, leaderless mass of American citizens who've sprang up across the country as the conservative of the year? I think so. In the past, those of us on the Right have mostly left the political rallies to liberals. However, the radical and dangerous socialistic impulses of the Obama Administration have panicked the American people and caused conservatives across the country to come together in the streets to say "enough is enough."
The Tea Party movement has been mocked, slandered, and smeared at every opportunity for a simple reason -- it's getting members of the "silent majority" who make the country work, out of their armchairs and into the streets where they're being inspired to go to Townhall meetings, call their congressmen, and vote. Today's political landscape will probably look very different after November of 2010 and the Tea Party movement will deserve a lot of the credit.