So who won the election?
Barack Obama became president-elect and John McCain got the consolation prize — a seat in the U.S. Senate! And thousands of other pols and wannabe-pols spent Tuesday night celebrating or mourning.
But there were other winners and losers, non-politicians who either profited mightily or slunk away broke and disgraced. And here are some of them — shining examples of American entrepreneurship, and equally shining examples of “what were they thinking?”
Fivethirtyeight.com. Less than a year ago, two math geeks and a videographer decided that the world needed another poll aggregating site, so that those of us who are obsessed by politics could figure out what the polls actually mean.
Fivethirtyeight sliced, diced, measured and analyzed the polls, explaining each one’s inherent biases, and ran daily computer simulations.
Maybe so, but it worked. During October, the site had 32.2 million page views. And now that the election’s over, how will they keep going?
They’re optimistic. A note on the site says “Nate and I have plenty of good ideas for after the election (above and beyond FiveThirtyEight After Dark, the porn subsidiary). Politics is going to stay interesting for a long time, and we’ll be here ….”
Tina Fey. For good or for ill, Fey’s Sarah Palin defined the Alaska governor.
Her wildly funny pieces on SNL should boost her fading Sitcom, “30 Rock” and define her, in turn, as her generation’s Gilda Radner.
Rachel Maddow. After so many dark decades of shouting, angry, middle-aged men yelling at each other and calling it political commentary, Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC show is purely delightful.
She’s smart, articulate, prepared and sensibly liberal. Maybe because she’s new to media stardom, she’s not a self-important windbag like some of her peers.
Rachel, stay as sweet as you are — and don’t go all Katie Couric on us.
Colorado Media Matters. Part of the vast liberal conspiracy that has underpinned Democratic victories at the polls, Colorado Media Matters, like its sister sites throughout the country, has devoted itself to calling out misstatements, exaggerations, half-truths and outright lies propagated by talk show hosts, newspapers and other media outlets.
Perhaps because of CMM’s vigilance, the colorful right-wingers who delight in partisan exaggeration have toned down their rhetoric.
Paul Krugman. Talk about your Master of the Universe. For eight years, Krugman’s column in the New York Times has mercilessly criticized Bushonomics — the tax cuts, the deregulation, the real estate bubble, the asleep-at-the-wheel regulators, the Pollyannas of the banking industry — and whaddayaknow, he was right all along.
And, rewarded for some obscure-but-brilliant economic theorizing that he published back in the early 1980s, he gets the Nobel Prize, which comes with a check for $1.2 million.
To be right, rich and have a column in the NYT … the rest of us ink-stained wretches can only dream.
Dick Wadhams. Once the heir-apparent to Karl Rove, the architect of Wayne Allard’s successful run for the Senate and the man who managed John Thune’s unseating of South Dakota U.S. Senate minority leader Tom Daschle, Wadhams came back to Colorado last year to revive the state Republican Party.
In his role as state party head, he muscled aside any potential rivals for the retiring Allard’s senate seat, anointing ex-congressman Bob Schaffer as the GOP’s standard bearer. Schaffer went down in flames to Mark Udall after a disastrous campaign, managed by Wadhams.
Two weeks before the election, the long knives were out for Wadhams, with former Rep. Scott McInniss claiming that he would’ve beaten Udall — and that the loss was all Wadhams’ fault.
Nicolle Wallace. Given the job of managing Sarah Palin by the McCain campaign, the veteran political organizer wasn’t canny enough to avoid being blamed for the now-legendary $150,000 shopping spree.
Wallace may want to try a new career — buyer for Macy’s perhaps?
Alan Greenspan. Formerly the revered head of the Federal Reserve, whose Delphic pronouncements were treated with the reverence once reserved for the tablets brought down from Mount Sinai by Moses, Greenspan took the hit for the near collapse of the world financial system.
Hauled before Congress for his sins, the contrite Greenspan said, “Those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholders’ equity, myself included, are in a state of shocked disbelief.”
How thou art fallen, O Lucifer, son of the morning!
Keith Olbermann. Yelling, blustering, judgmental, and bloated, Olbermann’s self-righteous rants suffered by comparison to the cool, unflappable Maddow.
A prediction: obscurity awaits.
Investment bankers. Yup, we envied those arrogant young smarties, creating incomprehensible financial products, making millions and living large.
And now they’re unemployed, the object of public scorn, and, like Wallace, in need of new careers.
Couldn’t have happened to a nicer bunch of folks … but they’re still rich.
John Hazlehurst can be reached at John.Hazlehurst@csbj.com or 227-5861.