Looking back at the endless campaign

Can you believe it? It’s almost over!

It seems as though we have been preparing for the 2008 election since 2004. What a ride! There was a time when the pundits said it was a given that Hillary Clinton would be the Democratic nominee. It was once a fact that John McCain’s campaign was out of money and was dead, dead, dead. There was a post-Rev. Wright month when it seemed a feckless Barack Obama had lost for sure.

Now as the people finally get to decide which guy gets the job no sane person would want, here are some of my awards for highlights and lowlights of the campaign. (I know I’ve left most of them out. But somewhere, somebody’s already writing the hefty coffee-table-book version of the ups and downs of the 2008 campaign.)


— Whoever-came-up-with-that-idea stage setting. The Grecian columns at the Denver convention. Even Obama has taken to mocking that weird decision.

— Best campaign video: Paris Hilton’s announcement, poolside, in a bikini, that she was running for president after the wrinkled white-haired dude, McCain, compared her celebrity with Obama’s.

— Most stunning soap-opera moment: Former family-man poster boy John Edwards, the Democratic running mate in 2004, admitting he’d had an extra-marital affair while his wife was battling cancer and he was running for president.

— Best wardrobe malfunction: The authentic, maverick, wilderness-loving, moose-slaying Sarah Palin’s acceptance of a $150,000 makeover from the Republican National Committee until she unaccepted it.

— Best-intentioned uh-oh remark: Joe Biden saying that Hillary Clinton would have made a better veep running mate for Obama.

— Most over-the-top rallies: Those where McCain-Palin supporters started yelled death threats at the opposition and insisting after McCain and Palin shouted that Obama was pals with a terrorist, that the campaign should take the gloves off and really get tough.

— Best debate performance: In the visual TV era, McCain’s rolling eyes, manic grins and steely glares at Obama in the last encounter. It was hard to pay attention to what McCain was saying about earmarks and the need for more tax cuts for the rich.

— Favorite sideshow character created by McCain: Joe the Plumber! (Even though he’s not really a licensed plumber, we never saw him from behind while bent over and he didn’t pay his taxes.)

— Best description of a presidential opponent: McCain’s reference to Obama as that one.

— Best completely irrelevant campaign chant: Drill, baby, drill!

— Most completely irrelevant campaign brouhaha: When Obama resorted to the old bromide that you can put lipstick on a pig, but its still a pig, aghast Republicans thought he was calling Palin a pig because she likes to say hockey moms are pit bulls with lipstick.

— Best premature utterance: Obama’s humble prediction that I won’t be the best president.

— Best mangling of the U.S. Constitution by a vice presidential candidate: Palin’s absolute confidence that the founding fathers put the vice president in charge of the Senate.

— Best emergence of unlikely bedfellows: The late-campaign side-by-sides of Obama and Bill Clinton (who spent months deriding Obama) that put listeners in a sugar-induced diabetic coma.

— Best 180-degree turn: Obama’s insistence he would take only federal funds in the general election followed by his decision to rake in as many millions from contributors as he could.

— Second-place 180-degree turns: McCain’s flips against drilling in coastal waters, holding prisoners in Guantanamo without due process, extending Bush’s tax cuts, subsidizing ethanol.

— Best e-word epithet for the opponent: A tie between Obama’s description of McCain as erratic, and McCain’s description of Obama as elitist.

— Most unfathomable comparison. Entertainment Weekly’s finding that Obama would choose to be Spiderman if he could be a superhero because Spiderman has inner turmoil and gets knocked around a little bit, while McCain picked Batman who does justice sometimes against insurmountable odds and doesn’t take credit for good deeds.

It’s impossible to believe that many folks will miss the campaign of 2008, let alone the year itself. Lets hope the next president doesn’t make us yearn for the good old days.


(Scripps Howard columnist Ann McFeatters has covered the White House and national politics since 1986. E-mail amcfeatters@nationalpress.com.)