Credit for best timing in this year's midterm elections goes to Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff and political maven who resigned earlier this year to run for mayor of Chicago, his reputation as a hard-driving winner still intact. Nothing sustains a reputation like resigning in time.
Worst prediction of the year? My nomination: "We are going to maintain our majority." --The Hon. Steny Hoyer in May 2010, majority leader of the U.S. House of Representatives, but not for much longer.
Taking second place would be this pronouncement on Election Day: "With the early returns and the overwhelming number of Democrats who are coming out, we're on pace to maintain the majority in the House of Representatives." --Speaker of he House Nancy Pelosi, November 2, 2010.
Her response to the Democratic defeat she did so much to ensure? Ms. Pelosi promptly announced that now she'll run for minority leader of the House come the next session of Congress. That's got to be the best news Republicans have received since election night.
It was Nancy Pelosi who came to symbolize the vote-first, read-later kind of legislation that this Congress specializes in. The only way to find out what was in ObamaCare, she told her colleagues at one point, was to pass it first. Businesses are still conferring with their tax lawyers, CPAs, accountants and insurance agents in hopes of finding out just how to survive all the new requirements and hidden traps in that 2,000-page mystification.
No wonder Nancy Pelosi became the poster girl for GOP candidates for the House in these midterms. Oh, what would they have done without her? And now she's ... BACK! Like an old horror film just in time for Halloween."So how's this hope-y, change-y thing workin' out for ya?" Sarah Palin famously inquires of her Tea Party audiences. It doesn't seem to have worked out all that well for Democratic candidates this fall, either.
As the election results were hashed and rehashed after this month's midterms, television and radio seemed full of failed politicos offering advice. How strange: Failure seems to have developed a certain cachet in our society. Maybe because all that empty air time has to be filled.
Of course there were also interviews with the bright new shiny successes, too. But just give 'em enough time, and sufficient hubris, and they, too, may have great futures ahead of them as failures. It's the newest career field.
Getting beat like a drum does have its advantages; it leaves a political wizard time to stage a comeback, the way the GOP's own Rahm Emanuel -- Karl Rove -- did this year.
The midterms also produced a new star in the Republican firmament -- Florida's Marco Rubio, who came from nowhere to become U.S. senator-elect and the next Great Right Hope.
Well, not exactly nowhere. He's a product of Miami's Cuban refugee community, which continues to serve up fervent believers in the free market, free elections and freedom in general. Gosh, I wonder why.
Here's a ponderous piece of prose that's just too delicious, too ,i>New York Times-ish not to quote. It comes from a columnist for that very newspaper, formerly the country's paper of record and now the unofficial guide to What Nice Liberals Must Think. His name is Matt Bai, and he wasted no time asking what approach the newly empowered GOP should take:
"One could argue that the most fundamental choice facing the new Republican House majority, in particular, is whether to stand on cultural or intellectual dissent -- or, to put it another way, whether they want to cast themselves principally as the party of Sarah Palin or the party of Rep. Paul D. Ryan."
Or as the equally simplistic headline above his column summed up his message: "Emotional or Cerebral: Republicans Face a Choice in How to Oppose."
Mr. Bai has a point: One could indeed argue ... almost anything. Including this false choice. Having asked which tactic the GOP should choose, Mr. Bai failed to raise a second, much more obvious question:
Why choose between heart and mind? Together, they're said to make a powerful combination. As an early Republican named Abraham Lincoln well knew.