Best of 2008: Clint Hendler

Hendler picks his top stories from 2008

1) The Edwards Slog Long, long ago, when John Edwards was just another Democratic candidate with an even shot to win the Iowa caucus, I joined his press retinue as he crossed the state in the last hours before the nomination season’s first contest. They weren’t happy to see me.

2) There’s Always Hope in Hillaryland When the never-say-it’s-over Democratic primary came to Pennsylvannia, Hillary Clinton’s campaign hoped a big win there would… well, it was never exactly clear what they hoped it would accomplish, as her party’s delegate allocation formulas made it virtually impossible for her to reclaim a lead in the
race. With that in mind, the rhetoric at her Philadelphia victory party was a staunch effort in denying the truth, waging what I saw as a “War on Math.”

3) Rejecting Post-Rationality The press didn’t really call the Democratic Primary until May 6, the night Clinton was trounced in North Carolina and eked a narrow victory in Indiana. The next morning, I tried to explain why it had taken so long to say what the numbers had augured for so long. Today, the piece reads like a wistful look at the sunset of a truly incredible nomination season.

4) McGambit Moments after John McCain announced, on the eve of his first debate with Obama, that he was “suspending” his campaign to return to Washington to tackle the economic crisis, I challenged the chattering classes to unleash their most cynical, superfical analyses of the move, to dissect it as if it were pure politics. I’ll admit it now: I knew they’d be up to the job!

5) E-gads! A Blog!Minnesota senator Norm Coleman, knocked through his reelection campaign with one accusation of petty corruption after another, refused to respond to—even to deny—one such allegation that surfaced in October. His reasoning? It relied on anonymous sources and was posted on “the blog.” This excuse was especially odd considering that the blogger in question was Ken Silverstein, an award winning reporter for Harper’s, one of the nation’s most prestigious magazines. The bottom line: bloggers—yes,even those not writing for fancy pants magazines—can do reporting too.

6) Palin and her Press When the political world was introduced to Sarah Palin, the first reaction was a universal head scratch. But within days, major national news organizations produced vital profiles and political histories of the Republican vice presidential nominee, uncovering or fully airing unsettling episodes that had been missed,
ignored, or undercovered in her home state. Alaskan journalists told me about being charmed by their governor, and of lacking the resources to do the kind of thorough vetting Palin received in the national spotlight.

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Clint Hendler is the managing editor of Mother Jones, and a former deputy editor of CJR.