Political Animal


December 28, 2012 9:58 AM Worst Year-End Column?

By Ed Kilgore

Year-end punditry is often less than stellar, particularly if it involves scribblers and gabbers who are not, you know, actually working, but who launch weighty reflections on The Year That Was from the bottom of the holiday punch bowl.

I don’t want to pick on Margaret Carlson, who is not at all a bad person or a writer without insights. But she did choose to pen a Bloomberg column yesterday that epitomizes the worst of the genre. After running the risk of self-parody in reviewing 2012 through a series of herky-jerky observations setting up links to her earlier columns, Carlson creates one of the worst “cool idea” hooks ever:

Unlike most of this year’s other losers, [Mitt] Romney still has money, an organization and a band of wealthy donors. So what should he do with them?
My suggestion is to take on Wayne LaPierre, chief executive of the National Rifle Association. LaPierre says he represents beleaguered gun owners, but his massive war chest comes from the gun industry (which has provided him with almost $40 million in recent years), not necessarily from NRA members.
What Romney first needs to do is quash the NRA’s unhinged crusade to put armed security guards and out-of-work police officers at every school….
Then Romney can lead the campaign for the assault-weapon ban, which is being readied for the new Congress and is much tougher than the one that lapsed in 2004. As governor of Massachusetts, Romney embraced gun control, signing an assault- weapons ban. He could stiffen the resolve of lawmakers whose fear of the NRA is greater than their grief for dead 6-year- olds. That’s a battle Romney could be proud of fighting — even if, shudder to think, he loses.

You know what that reminds me of? Some stoner party game from way back in the day where The Kids crack themselves up imagining Richard Nixon or Ronald Reagan mooning the cameras or firing up a joint during an Oval Office speech. Sorry, Margaret, Mitt Romney is not going to validate the thinly veiled belief of Beltway types that he might have been a damn fine president if he had found a way to free himself of those unsavory downscale social conservatives with their fetus posters and their guns. Freed from the constraints of electoral politics, Mitt Romney is probably not going to devote a moment of time showing a grateful America that a kinder, gentler corporatism—sort of a revival of the Ripon Society—is the formula we’ve all been looking for. Why would he confirm everything his detractors suspect of him by another egregious flip-flop which no one is making him (or even, with the exception of Margaret Carlson, asking him) to perform?

Besides, who’s going to listen to Mitt Romney? Democrats? Republicans who only accepted him because they thought he’d win and then he’d be weak enough to control?

Carlson’s conjuring up an imaginary leader for an imaginary constituency, or maybe it was just a throwaway thought at the end of a column she didn’t much want to write. But her hold on Worst Year-End Column laurels could be very brief: it’s Friday, which means one last 2012 column from Peggy Noonan!

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • Patrick Star on December 28, 2012 10:06 AM:

    You're right, Ed; it's a really stupid idea. So, remind me why I'm supposed to value the opinion of Margaret Carlson. Aren't these Washington pundits supposed to be smarter than everyone else? This is just pathetic - what universe do these people live in?

  • Anonymous on December 28, 2012 10:10 AM:

    Besides, whos going to listen to Mitt Romney? Democrats? Republicans who only accepted him because they thought hed win and then hed be weak enough to control?

    In that one paragraph is the truest explanation of the 2012 election cycle I've seen - and the most succinct description of the mad S&M scene that was the GOP primary. Mitt Romney: strong enough to win, weak enough to control, and detached enough not to care about the consequences of his reign - er, pResidency. He's the closest thing the US has seen to Louis XVI in living memory (certainly since Harding).

    And even suggesting that Romney - so strongly connected to the gun-happy West - would actually be a counterweight to LaPierre is laughable at best. Then again, suggesting that Romney would be credible in any position other than celebrity cameo in a remake of Liar Liar is a bit much these days.

  • c u n d gulag on December 28, 2012 10:27 AM:

    Mitt Romeny?
    Take on the NRA?

    But, Ms. Carlsen, what would Mitt hunt small varmints with?

    Or, as only Mitt could put it, so succinctly, and eloquently:
    "I'm not a big-game hunter," he said. "I've made it very clear, 'I've always been a, if you will, a rodent and rabbit hunter all right? Small, small varmints, if you will. And I began when I was, oh, 15 or so, and have hunted those kinds of varmints since then... more than two times. I also hunted quail in Georgia, so Ive... it's not really big-game hunting, if you will, however. It's not deer and large animals. But I've hunted a number of times of various types of small rodents."

    So, Ms. Carlsen, you want a man who, if he ever really hunted at all, only took shots a small, small, varmints.

    And you want HIM to shoot at the 80,000 pound gorilla in the political room?

    Looks like Margaret must have broken into Nooners liquor cabinet, and downed a bottle of 80 year-old Absinthe - I hear that has some delusional and hallucinogenic properties.

  • James M on December 28, 2012 10:52 AM:

    Whatever I might have thought about Mitt Romney during the campaign, it was always crystal clear to me that if he lost he would walk away and never give another thought to the body politic.

  • esaud on December 28, 2012 10:57 AM:

    Is Carlson talking about the same Mitt Romney who happily sought the endorsement from Ted "Suck on my machine gun you worthless whore" Nugent? The Romney who had a "heart and soul" with Nugent, that son Tagg thought was "way cool"?

    This just underscores the extent to which the VSP's look the other way when their beloved Republicans consort with the worst of the worst.

  • zandru on December 28, 2012 11:02 AM:

    Re: End of Year Columns

    Not to go too far off topic here, but is anyone at WM resurrecting 2011's end of year pundit predictions? I would really LOVE a rundown on how "well" the Beltway Boyz (&Girlz) did. A nice followup might be snark on their predictions for 2013, in view of their past records.

  • boatboy_srq on December 28, 2012 11:07 AM:

    @James M: Another thought? He never gave one to the body politic while he was running.

    Captcha: case annnger. Maybe that's what Carlson has now that Rmoney's lost. Oh, and Ms. Carlson? "Unlike most [of this years other] losers" is far more accurate punctuation when describing the One-Term Governor and Heel of Bain.

  • Jeff In Ohio on December 28, 2012 11:38 AM:

    The worst is easily Jennifer Rubins.

  • Doug on December 28, 2012 1:44 PM:

    Was Margaret Carlson watching the same election campaign I was? Because if there was one thing Romney demonstrated in that campaign, it was was "What's in it for me?"
    President and First Lady, or possibly more accurately First Lady and President, were the ONLY reasons for his campaign. Public service?
    To quote Leona Helmsley, "That's for little people!"

  • LAC on December 28, 2012 1:57 PM:

    Amen, Jeff. That piece of crap writing by the dim bulb rubin was one for the ages. I think she and Carlson shared a joint.