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Rothenberg’s best and worst of 2020

The biggest surprises, quickest forgotten bombshells and an all-time loser

OPINION Well, here we are again, at the end of another year. And for my money, 2020 can’t end soon enough.

Anyway, it’s time for another of those best/worst, winners/losers columns. As always, I’ll list some nominees and pick my winners. Feel free to disagree. Just don’t email me.

Most overhyped Senate race


The winner: Not even close. Kentucky. Democratic contributors thought with their hearts, not their heads. McGrath never had a chance.

Trump lawyer of the year


  • Jenna Ellis
  • Rudy Giuliani
  • Sidney Powell
  • Joe DiGenova

The winner: I know. It’s difficult not to pick Sidney Powell immediately. But there is no winner here. Just a bunch of losers. (But be sure to read the New York Times and Wall Street Journal profiles of Ellis.)

Biggest surprise of 2020


  • Maine Sen. Susan Collins reelected
  • Rothenberg has the chutzpah to do another one of these awful best-and-worst columns
  • COVID-19
  • Republicans make gains in House

My winner: COVID? Nah, it’s just a hoax. I’m going with Republican House gains, which were completely unexpected.

Republican of the year


  • Utah Sen. Mitt Romney
  • Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger
  • Philadelphia City Commissioner Al Schmidt
  • Georgia voting system implementation manager Gabriel Sterling

The winner: Romney behaved better than his Senate colleagues, but Schmidt put himself out there knowing that many Republican voters and officeholders would vilify him. Still, Raffensperger and Sterling are my picks to share the award given the abuse they put up with, and for their honesty, integrity and commitment to the democratic process.

Donald Trump’s most intense political love affair of 2020 was with …


  • Vladimir Putin
  • Kim Jong Un
  • Benjamin Netanyahu
  • Mohammed bin Salman
  • Donald Trump

The winner: It’s The Donald. It’s always The Donald.

Words/phrases most associated with Donald Trump


  • “The likes of which has never been seen before”
  • Ventilators
  • “If we stopped testing now, we’d have very few cases, if any.”
  • Hydroxychloroquine
  • “Rigged election”

The winner: Boy, this is a tough one. I’m going with the testing one though. He still doesn’t understand the relationship between testing and cases.

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Sycophant of the year


The winner: Oh, Lindsey, what would John McCain think?

Most in need of a preemptive pardon


  • Donald Trump Jr.
  • Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner
  • Stuart Rothenberg
  • Eric Trump
  • Rudy Giuliani

The winner: It’s a tie! All of the above — except me.

2020 bombshell too quickly forgotten


  • Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump begins, Jan. 16
  • Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies, Sept. 18
  • “We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China. We have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.” — Trump, Jan. 22
  • Revelations in “Rage” by Bob Woodward, published Sept. 15

The winner: It’s Ginsburg, of course. A huge impact on the high court, the law and the country for many years to come.

Biggest loser of the year


  • Donald J. Trump
  • President Trump
  • Donald John Trump
  • The Dear Leader

My winner: Loser Donald J. Trump.

A Biden supporter celebrates next to a caricature of President Donald Trump on Fourteenth Street Northwest in Washington on Nov. 7 after news outlets declared victory for the Democratic presidential ticket. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

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