Worst Year-End Column?

Year-end punditry is often less than stellar, particularly if it involves scribblers and gabbers who are not, you know, actually working, but who launch weighty reflections on The Year That Was from the bottom of the holiday punch bowl.

I don’t want to pick on Margaret Carlson, who is not at all a bad person or a writer without insights. But she did choose to pen a Bloomberg column yesterday that epitomizes the worst of the genre. After running the risk of self-parody in reviewing 2012 through a series of herky-jerky observations setting up links to her earlier columns, Carlson creates one of the worst “cool idea” hooks ever:

Unlike most of this year’s other losers, [Mitt] Romney still has money, an organization and a band of wealthy donors. So what should he do with them?

My suggestion is to take on Wayne LaPierre, chief executive of the National Rifle Association. LaPierre says he represents beleaguered gun owners, but his massive war chest comes from the gun industry (which has provided him with almost $40 million in recent years), not necessarily from NRA members.

What Romney first needs to do is quash the NRA’s unhinged crusade to put armed security guards and out-of-work police officers at every school….

Then Romney can lead the campaign for the assault-weapon ban, which is being readied for the new Congress and is much tougher than the one that lapsed in 2004. As governor of Massachusetts, Romney embraced gun control, signing an assault- weapons ban. He could stiffen the resolve of lawmakers whose fear of the NRA is greater than their grief for dead 6-year- olds. That’s a battle Romney could be proud of fighting — even if, shudder to think, he loses.

You know what that reminds me of? Some stoner party game from way back in the day where The Kids crack themselves up imagining Richard Nixon or Ronald Reagan mooning the cameras or firing up a joint during an Oval Office speech. Sorry, Margaret, Mitt Romney is not going to validate the thinly veiled belief of Beltway types that he might have been a damn fine president if he had found a way to free himself of those unsavory downscale social conservatives with their fetus posters and their guns. Freed from the constraints of electoral politics, Mitt Romney is probably not going to devote a moment of time showing a grateful America that a kinder, gentler corporatism–sort of a revival of the Ripon Society–is the formula we’ve all been looking for. Why would he confirm everything his detractors suspect of him by another egregious flip-flop which no one is making him (or even, with the exception of Margaret Carlson, asking him) to perform?

Besides, who’s going to listen to Mitt Romney? Democrats? Republicans who only accepted him because they thought he’d win and then he’d be weak enough to control?

Carlson’s conjuring up an imaginary leader for an imaginary constituency, or maybe it was just a throwaway thought at the end of a column she didn’t much want to write. But her hold on Worst Year-End Column laurels could be very brief: it’s Friday, which means one last 2012 column from Peggy Noonan!

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.