Every week in 2011, we “awarded” someone or, occasionally, some thing, our “Worst Week in Washington” honor.
And, every week we got a few emails and tweets from people asking us why we didn’t award a “Best Week in Washington”. The answer can be summed up in a single (German) word: schadenfreude. There is a part of all of us that takes secret (or maybe not-so-secret) pleasure in the misfortune of others.
Leo Tolstoy — and, yes, we took a Russian literature class in college — put it best when he wrote in the opening line of “Anna Karenina”: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
But, even the Fix has a heart. And we decided that as part of our year end awards we would listen to our better angels and give out a “Best Year” and “Good Year”prizes. (Never fear: We are also giving out our “Bad Year” and “Worst Year” awards later this week. You can track it all here.)
Our “Best Year” went to the Clinton clan — Hillary, Bill and Chelsea. We write:
In a year in which almost anyone associated with the Obama administration turned to dross — Attorney General Eric Holder (”Fast and Furious”), Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner (the economy), Energy Secretary Steven Chu (Solyndra), Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (Plan B) — Clinton managed to stay gold.
She continued to travel the world at a breakneck pace — some 60 trips abroad and nearly 600,000 miles to date — including to places such as Burma, where no U.S. diplomat had ventured in decades. Clinton’s steady leadership on Libya drew wide praise in the diplomatic world and contributed to the overthrow of longtime dictator Moammar Gaddafi.
As for our “Good Year” award, we chose former House Speaker Newt Gingrich who was left for dead politically a few months ago but has willed himself to top-tier status with the Iowa caucuses less than three weeks away.
Counted out by, well, everyone, Gingrich spent the summer finding sustenance in the many, many debates on the presidential calendar to reenergize his campaign.
And he succeeded. Tossing red meat to the conservative base (Fire Ben Bernanke!), launching attacks on debate moderators (”I’m not interested in your effort to get Republicans fighting each other”) and deploying the power of his not-insignificant intellect (he’s ranged from the League of Nations to electromagnetic pulse attacks during the debates), Gingrich now finds himself at the front of the Republican presidential race with just over two weeks before the Iowa caucuses.
Bookmark our “Worst Year in Washington” page to see all of our award winners. We’ll unveil the “Bad Years” later today and then tomorrow will bring our “Worst Year” winner.