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12.16.08

Washington's Five Biggest Losers

Who came up the shortest in the Capitol's quadrennial reshuffling? Hint: None of them are named John McCain.

With the election over, let's take some time to think about who really lost this year, people who gaffed, aged, or otherwise slouched into the limelight and who will start the year with a fund of political capital smaller than your 401(k).

1. Bill Kristol. The jovial Weekly Standard chief has shown little interest in keeping his New York Times column—heck, he barely showed interest in writing it—which is perhaps just as well, as it was the source of some of the cycle's most eye-poppingly wrong predictions and least solicited advice. And though you might choose to think his advocacy of Sarah Palin for VP was how he inflicted the worst damage on the McCain campaign, we think he effectively ended the race by saying that like the Red Sox, McCain would come back—which only doomed the Red Sox.

Even Joe Lieberman has already gotten more out of the Obama administration than John Kerry has.

2. Jesse Jackson, Jr. And you thought he might have been interested in changing his name before. If he's lucky, maybe he can be buried under the name "Candidate 5." Less embarrassing.

3. Public Financing. In the words of one former Republican campaign staffer, "It didn't just lose, it died. Dead dead. Drawn, quartered, its entrails burned while its body was hung." And while Obama aides are feeling pretty smug about their “small-donor” model, one wonders what will happen when the rock star is just another president presiding over midterms. The policy was a noble goal that died at the hands of a former proponent, a death that's almost Shakespearean in its symmetry but much much more boring.

4. John Kerry. At least when he lost the presidency, people felt sorry for him. Bill Richardson didn't say have the crazy things Kerry said in the name of electing Barack Obama—McCain staffers cite his "Depends" joke as a low—and he got a Cabinet seat out of it. Even Lieberman has already gotten more out of the Obama administration than Kerry has.

5. TIE: Norm Coleman/Al Franken. The epic battled of the boring versus the outraged. With the Dems having lost sight of getting to a filibuster-proof 60 seat super-majority, the race has ceased to be of national interest. And yet, sadly for Minnesota, it continues. And no matter who wins in the end, right now they both are losing. Coleman because he can't even seem to beat Al Franken. Franken: Can't even seem to beat Norm Coleman.

Wonkette emerita, political junkie, self-hating journalist, and author of Dog Days. Ana Marie Cox has worked for Time, Mother Jones, Suck, and most recently, Radar. Follow her on Twitter.