2008′s “Fool of the Year” is Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin.
Out of a list of 20 candidates, Palin was chosen by 23% of Foolocracy’s viewers as the politician who acted the most foolishly over the past year. President George Bush followed closely behind at 17%. Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich tallied a distant third at 10%. Trailing still further behind were President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe with 8%, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of Italy with 7%, former Senator and Presidential candidate John Edwards and former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer at just under 5%. Senator John McCain and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad were the only other choices to poll over 3%.
Fool of the Year - Sarah Palin
Palin’s sudden emergence on the national political scene filled the world of politics with endless material for stories. There was Troopergate, a homegrown Alaskan scandal involving the firing of her former brother-in-law, which brought an investigation of abuse of power. Palin, who presented herself as grounded in family values and religious convictions, had to face the difficult chore of explaining her teenage daughter’s pregnancy. Then there were awkward, if not outright embarrassing, interviews with Charles Gibson and Katie Couric. There was the spending spree of $150,000 in designer clothes for her family, funded by Republican donors; and the famous background turkey slaughter while Palin gave an interview. Many wondered if the former mayor of a small Alaskan town of 5,000, who had been governor for less than two years, was really up for the job as next in line for the leader of the most powerful country in the world.
Runner-up – George Bush
George Bush had a relatively good year, at least compared to the previous seven as President. Yet he nearly edged out Palin for the Fool title. Still, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars linger on, the economy has collapsed and a massive budget deficit drowns the U.S. government. For some people, George Bush has done enough wrong in the previous seven years to deserve the title in perpetuity. The disdain for Bush is easily summed up by the shoes thrown at him. It isn’t often that a President gets assaulted and much of the world cheers.
Third Place – Rod Blagojevich
The Illinois Governor has been investigated for some time as corruption charges have circled his administration. Shortly before his arrest, Blagojevich even dared federal authorities to tape him, claiming that he had nothing to hide. By the time Blagojevich said that, Federal Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald had all he needed. Ironically, Blagojevich, who admires Richard Nixon, imitated both Nixon’s foul mouth and fouler ethics. It appears that Blagojevich has acted as if the governorship is his own private money chest. Nevertheless, trying to sell a U.S. Senate seat to the highest bidder is stunning.
Personally responsible for running into the ground what was once one of the most prosperous countries in Africa represents outrageous incompetence. Zimbabwe is in the grips of a cholera epidemic, inflation runs in the millions of percent, the electoral system has no legitimacy and even the army riots. Calling Mugabe a fool is better than he deserves.
When the leader of one of the world’s major countries has beauty as one of the criteria for his cabinet selections, things are going to become foolish very fast. Rumors floated during the summer that Berlusconi engaged in oral sex with one of his ministers, a former showgirl. He also passed laws protecting himself from investigations and criminal charges while in office. Over the years, Berlusconi has been brought to trial on numerous charges, but never has been found guilty. Now he doesn’t have to worry about that again until he is out of office.
When the National Enquirer can make a fool out of politician, then it is a very special case indeed. Yet that is what happened with Edwards. Rumors of a “love child” with a staffer floated for months, but only when the Enquirer’s reporters finally cornered Edwards in the act of seeing his mistress did the rumors become truth. Edwards was also rumored for a high position in the Obama administration, but his shenanigans ended that. Fortunately, for the Democrats, Edwards’ campaign did not connect to the voters. Otherwise, John McCain would be President.
Who would have thought Spitzer was not the most foolish governor of 2008? The law and order image he projected had its limits when it came to his sexual peculiarities. So much has happened since his arrest that Spitzer is old news, but he still deserves a dishonorable mention. He even has begun to rehabilitate himself with op-ed pieces, but it is hard to ignore $5,000 hookers when Eliot Spitzer’s name is mentioned.