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Opinion Best in show: The politicians who excelled

Best in Show winner Flynn, a Bichon Frise, at the 142nd Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show at the Piers in New York on Feb. 13. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Merry Christmas to all who are celebrating today. We’ll be back in full force on Dec. 27.

With 2018 drawing to a close, it’s time to recognize the standouts, the best of the best. With a nod to dog show categories — where form follows function — we will rely on the seven groups in use at dog competitions.

Herding: These are the organizers, the movers and shakers who keep their flock together, steer around danger and aren’t shy about barking out orders to stragglers. No one bests Speaker-in-waiting Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). She kept Democrats during the 2016 focused like a laser on health care, lined up her support in the caucus and deftly aligned her troops on the shutdown, making sure everyone had their facts straight and eye on the instigator of the whole mess, President Trump.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi on Dec. 20 decried a “meltdown” by House Republicans over a government funding bill and funding for a southern border wall. (Video: Reuters)

Hounds: They sniff out, trail and corner their targets, sometimes in packs but working solo if need be. The White House and Capitol Hill TV and print reporters, without whom we would know very little about our government, illuminate the serial scandals, the inner workings of the White House and the legislative sausage-making. Likewise, the nonpartisan legal groups — Protect Democracy, CREW, the ACLU — doggedly (sorry) ferret out illegality and constitutional violations, drag the government into court and defend the rule of law.

Working: They don’t preen or showboat; they are not high maintenance. They do the daily tasks with gusto and often without recognition. We’ve seen Sens. Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.) and Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) try their best to work with Republicans on Judiciary and Intelligence committees, respectively. In the states, Republican Govs. Larry Hogan, Charlie Baker and John Kasich balanced budgets, worked on health care and school reform, and strove for bipartisan wins that make their constituents’ lives better.

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Sporting: They love the campaigns, the fun of the fight, the thrill of victories. Teddy Roosevelt praised “the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause.” Was there anyone who more exemplified that spirit than the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)? He loved a good fight like no one else, and relished in taking down the favorites. He fought for the underdog (sorry, again), languishing in foreign prisons and under the boot of dictators.

Non-sporting: Alas, they produce very little and look, at times, downright ridiculous. They are the lapdogs, there to be stroked, pampered and led around by the nose. Here we recognize the entire stable of Fox News evening hosts, outgoing Speaker of the House Paul D. Ryan and the entire entourage of self-appointed “conservatives” who define conservatism as “whatever Trump wants.”

Toy: They are small but punch above their weight. Undeterred by the big dogs, their energy and grit make them seem far bigger than they are. The Parkland kids took America by storm, showing tenacity, media savvy and devotion to one another. They were fearless in going after the NRA. In doing so, they helped put the gun debate front and center, and emboldened politicians to step forward on gun safety.

Terriers: Will they ever stop yipping and yapping? Loud and annoying, they make up in stubbornness what they lack in charm. The Freedom Caucus remains disruptive, irrational and undomesticated. They’d rather create bedlam than work productively with others. Thank goodness they’ll be in the minority pack . . . er . . . party in 2019.

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