With this final "Two Cents" of 2011, let's hand out the awards for Winner and Loser of the Year for 2011.
First off, honorable mentions: In the Winner category, honorable mention goes to State Senator Jessica King. Proving that good timing is just as important as good strategy, King rode the perfect political storm to an historic recall election victory. An incumbent with serious character issues and a large number of angry public employees turned a traditionally Republican district King's direction after a narrow loss two years before.
Also receiving honorable mention on the Winner of the Year side: Mitt Romney. Romney is proving that the Aesop's Fable about the tortoise and the hare is still correct. He has seen Michelle Bachman race out to the "frontrunner" position--before people realized that she is insane. Then Rick Perry rocketed past Romney--only to prove that he is a complete airhead. Herman Cain became the new darling candidate--until we found out that he was the second coming of Bill Clinton. Then Newt Gingrich became the "Anybody But Mitt" candidate--before people remembered that he is Newt Gingrich. And now Ron Paul is the new "major challenger" to Romney--but the power brokers in the GOP will never allow Ron to win. That leaves Mitt as the Last Man Standing--just by standing around.
Honorable mention for Loser of the Year: European Freeloaders. For some reason, state support for those who choose not to work--and providing universal health care--is bankrupting the European Union. The Austerity movement will mean people who have made a comfortable living living on the dole are about to get a rude awakening.
Also an honorable mention in the Loser category: State Representative Gordon Hintz. Rebuffed in his run for party leadership in the Assembly, busted in a prostitution sting, and making national headlines for threatening to kill another Legislator--not the kind of record you want in an effort to move on to higher office someday. It's never a good thing when Jay Leno is getting a big laugh at your expense.
The runner up for Loser of the Year is Assembly Speaker John Boener. Somehow, he has managed to squander all of the ill-will voters have toward President Obama by being an even bigger moron. A good leader knows what battles are worth fighting--and the year-end standoff over the payroll tax holiday was not worth fighting. A good politician should also know that allowing the "other side" to win on some things allows everyone to win in the long run.
The runner up for Winner of the Year: Congressman Paul Ryan. Unlike the aforementioned John Boehner, Ryan is the real voice of fiscal responsibility in Washington. And his decision to not run for President--despite the desperate begging from the real Consveratives in the Republican Party--will pay off in the long run, because the deficit, Medicare and Social Security messes are only to get worse. At some point sanity will reign and a majority of national voters will be ready to take the steps necessary to get back out of the hole--and Congressman Ryan will have the high ground in that fight.
And now the Biggest Loser of 2012: Former State Senator Randy Hopper. He became the first sitting State Senator to lose in a recall election. He also had his private life dragged out into public--in a very ugly way. And then there was the drunk driving arrest after that. Randy was seen as a mover and shaker in the state GOP--with perhaps some bigger goals in mind. Now, that is all gone in the course of one very bad year.
And the Biggest Winner of 2012: Packers Quarterback Aaron Rodgers. I considered naming Wisconsin taxpayers for this honor--but the fight to undo the changes that resulted in actual tax relief this year is ongoing, and I wouldn't want to celebrate a victory too soon--so Rodgers ends up the winner. Super Bowl MVP, a shoo-in for this year's NFL MVP and his emergence as popular endorsement pitchman--2012 was about as great a year as possible for A-Rod. About the only downside was that Tim Tebow emerged as a replacement to Brett Favre as the media darling that steals the spotlight from the great things that Aaron has accomplished.
Thanks to everyone who listens to WOSH Radio for making 2011 a great year. And here's to a great 2012.