The Washington Post's most-viewed opinions of 2010

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The Post Opinions Staff
Thursday, December 30, 2010; 12:48 PM

Looking back at a year of Post Opinions writing in terms of page views doesn't provide a good overview of what happened in 2010. There's nothing in any of the pieces below about health-care reform or the BP oil spill or the midterm elections -- though we published plenty of pieces on those topics. Nor do page views indicate which arguments were most convincing. We realize that merely reading an opinion column says nothing about whether you agree or disagree. And we know that many of the pieces below generated strong disagreement. But page views can be seen as a proxy for how much a piece gets people talking -- which is something every opinion writer hopes to do. So, by that measure, here are the most talked about and debated Post Opinions of 2010 -- along with some of what was said about them.

10. Think this economy is bad? Wait for 2012 by Greg Ip, published Oct. 24. Greg Ip doesn't want anyone to get too comfortable with the idea that we're safely beyond economic crisis. He wrote: "I, for one, have no idea what will cause the next economic disaster. But I do have an idea of when it will begin: 2012."

9. Those troublesome Jews by Charles Krauthammer, published June 4. Krauthammer came to the defense of Israel and its blockade of Gaza -- and suggested that those opposed to the blockade are part of an "international campaign to deprive Israel of any legitimate form of self-defense." The column prompted some rather heated debate. Among the most animated objectors was Andrew Sullivan, who has been known to clash with Krauthammer on occasion, and who in this case wrote that Krauthammer suffered from "Israel derangement syndrome."

8. Sarah Palin is wrong about John F. Kennedy, religion and politics, by Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, published Dec. 3. In one of two pieces about Palin in the Opinions top ten, the niece of President Kennedy took issue with Palin's criticism of Kennedy and with her implication that politicians should have to pass a religious test. We're still waiting for Palin to tweet her response.

7. One and done: To be a great president, Obama should not seek reelection in 2012 by Douglas Schoen and Patrick Caddell, published Nov. 14. Two Democratic pollsters argued that the best way for Obama to avoid political gridlock and reduce polarization would be to announce that he won't run in 2012. Are you convinced? Conservative Byron York wasn't. He wrote that Republicans would see such a move "as a sign of fatal weakness and would attempt to run over Obama on matters big and small." And Slate's Dave Weigel responded with "six ridiculous ideas for opinion columns on how Obama can rescue his presidency," including, "Obama can win in 2012 if he changes his last name to Dunham" and, "Why Obama needs a new first lady."

6. Massa flirts with the right, but Beck isn't tickled by Dana Milbank, published March 10. Post columnist Dana Milbank earned three spots on the Post Opinions top ten list. In this piece, Milbank recounted the awkwardness that ensued when Fox News's Glenn Beck invited New York Democratic congressman Eric Massa on his show. Milbank framed it as "a case of two political extremists who have gone so far in opposite directions that these strange bedfellows have wound up on the same mattress: They are both avowed foes of the Obama administration and its efforts to enact health-care reform." But Beck found that Massa probably wasn't a figure he wanted to embrace -- or tickle fight.

5. Obama's disregard for media reaches new heights at nuclear summit by Dana Milbank, published April 14. Milbank perceived that the administration wasn't sending the best message to foreign leaders and reporters during this 47-country gathering. "World leaders arriving in Washington for President Obama's Nuclear Security Summit must have felt for a moment that they had instead been transported to Soviet-era Moscow," Milbank wrote. "The only part of the summit, other than a post-meeting news conference, that was visible to the public was Obama's eight-minute opening statement, which ended with the words: 'I'm going to ask that we take a few moments to allow the press to exit before our first session.'"

4. On the Daily Show, Obama is the last laugh by Dana Milbank, published Oct. 27. "The indignity of a comedy show host calling the commander in chief 'dude' pretty well captured the moment for Obama," Milbank wrote. While Milbank's column set the tone for day-after commentary, the White House professed to be unfazed. "If the president took offense at somebody calling him 'dude,' given the names that are hurled around this town, I hazard a guess he'd rarely leave the top floor of the residence," said spokesman Robert Gibbs.

3. Olbermann, O'Reilly and the death of real news by Ted Koppel, published Nov. 14. Koppel held up MSNBC's Keith Olbermann and Fox News's Bill O'Reilly as the antithesis of a "long-gone era of television journalism, when the networks considered the collection and dissemination of substantive and unbiased news to be a public trust." Olbermann and O'Reilly, of course, went on the defensive. On air, Olbermann sought to highlight Koppel's contribution to the selective telling of the news, and O'Reilly declared his program "a fact-based news analysis broadcast."

2. Oval office rug gets history wrong by Jamie Stiehm, published Sept. 4. Journalist Stiehm pointed out that a quote in the new White House rug that was being attributed to Martin Luther King Jr. actually originated with progressive Bostonian Theodore Parker. Steihm's op-ed seemed to have a particularly pronounced impact in conservative media circles, inspiring headlines such as: "Smartest president in history botches oval office rug quote." The American Thinker's Thomas Lifson wrote that this "error perfectly encapsulates the shallowness of Barack Obama's intellect and his lack of rigor. Underfoot, literally, there is woven into his background a prominent vein of phoniness." The White House maintained that there was no need for a correction. "It was not us that thought he said it; it was many people that believed -- rightly so -- that he said it," Gibbs said.

1. Five myths about Sarah Palin by Matthew Continetti, published Oct. 17. Continetti, an editor for the conservative Weekly Standard, questioned the assumption that Palin is a political lightweight who has already reached her peak. "Without question, a Palin 2012 campaign would be an uphill battle," he wrote. But "if Palin works hard and runs an impressive campaign, wavering Republicans and skeptical independents may give her a second look." As far as how that one plays out, we'll have to wait and see.


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