(5) Mary Landrieu: There were a lot of at-risk Democrats this year, but Sen. Landrieu takes the cake for having the worst year. First, she got caught listing a New Orleans’ home as her primary address, when it was in fact her parents’ house. In reality, Landrieu lives in a $2.5 million brick mansion on Capitol Hill. Then she was bused for spending taxpayer funds to charter a flight to attend a campaign fundraiser, a violation of federal law. Then a vote she championed that would have pressured President Obama to construct the Keystone XL pipeline failed despite constantly touting her chairmanship of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The indignities culminated in a thorough drubbing at the polls where Landrieu lost to Republican Bill Cassidy by 8 percentage points.
(4) Jonathan Gruber: The behind-the-scenes architect of Obamacare came to the forefront of the public debate following a series of jaw-dropping videos explaining his thought process in crafting the law. “Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage,” Gruber was caught saying. “And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical for the thing to pass.” He later was caught saying that the “bill was written in a tortured way” to deceive the “stupid” and their “lack of economic understanding” while also “mak[ing] sure CBO did not score the mandate as taxes.” The string of videos kept coming, revealing that the law was only “10 percent about cost control,” but admitting that the “problem is we don’t know how to” control cost growth. As a reward for his inability to simply be quiet he was fired from a number of consulting projects and asked to testify before the House Oversight Committee.
(3) Eric Shinseki: As Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki oversaw a year so plagued with scandal that even the most ardent Democrats had no choice but to say he must be fired. The scandal actually began in 2012, when 21 veterans contracted Legionnaire’s disease. Six of them died. In carried on into a 2013 investigation that found sewer water in one radiation therapy room, bone in surgical instruments from previous patients, and patient’s dying because doctors used unsterile equipment. But things came to a head this year when numerous news reports revealed secret waiting lists meant to hide the fact that veterans have been waiting months, even years, for care. Worst of all, the secret lists were created to make the VA hospitals seem more efficient in order to earn bonuses for hospital administrators. Shinseki was deservedly forced to step down after initially refusing to offer his resignation.
(2) Barack Obama: President Obama’s sixth year in office was arguably his worst, which is really saying something. At home he faced numerous scandals, not the least of which was the revelation that the National Security Agency was spying on American citizens, the economic recovery continues to be disappointing (especially for the middle class), Obamacare continues to put upward pressure on insurance prices, and he seems asleep at the wheel while his agencies flounder. Abroad, he fared even worse, with America underestimating the threat of ISIS and being forced to reenter Iraq in no small part because of his ill-planned removal of U.S. troops. And then there was the midterm elections, which he declared were all about him and his policies, in which his party was trounced at nearly every level.
(1) Harry Reid: Nearly everything went wrong this year for Senator Harry Reid: His political operation was wholly ineffectual, his attempts to meddle in Republican primaries turned up bust, his unpopularity hit an all-time high, and most importantly, he lost his title as Majority Leader. A case could be made that Sen. Reid actually cost his party seats. His scheming in favor of John Walsh in Montana backfired after Walsh was caught in a plagiarism scandal and Reid’s aggressive maneuvering to get Rick Weiland out of the South Dakota Senate race to pave the way for his preferred candidate created an intra-party divide that sunk any chances of winning the race. The reward for his labors was one of the biggest midterm losses in recent history. Congrats Sen. Reid, you had the worst year in Washington.