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Panel on the Year in Politics

Panel on the Year in Politics

FOX News Special Report With Brit Hume - December 31, 2008

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you so much, all of you, for taking the time to help celebrate, help ring in what is going to be an outstanding year for Democrats and an outstanding year for America!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANGLE: And we're back with our panel.

That was Barack Obama on New York's--New Year's Eve, rather, one year ago today. As 2008 enters its last few hours, we thought we would give it a proper sendoff, minus the champagne, by taking proper note of some of the key developments this year.

And one of the most notable, Bill, was the election of the first African-American president, something that at this time last year seemed like it was possible, but still distant.

SAMMON: It seemed really unthinkable. Everyone thought Hillary Clinton was going to be the nominee.

And I'll tell you, when it turned for me, when it really hit me in the solar plexus, and I vividly remember this, the Iowa caucuses. That night I was in Des Moines, and when I heard the news I remember where iw as and I remember how I felt.

It kind of blindsided me, and I thought, uh-oh, this is not something I saw coming. And I thought Republicans will be so upset, because with Hillary you had these delicious negatives you could run against this polarizing personality. With Barack Obama, this guy is hard to attack. It's like attacking hope itself.

A lot of people were saying Hillary will come back, and the conventional wisdom was that she'll recover, but it still hit me in my gut that we were at a key turning point, and, indeed, we were.

ANGLE: It's pretty amazing, isn't it, Charles?

KRAUTHAMMER: It is.

And what also happened this year is a follow-up, almost a coda to the historic election, something also happened this year, which is that within two months of his election, and still three weeks before his inauguration, we're used to it. It's no longer a big deal. This, I find, almost as amazing as the election of the first African-American.

There's going to be hoopla about all of this on inauguration day, and for a couple of days before and after. But the fact is that America is entirely at ease with this. It's almost a non-story. It's a secondary story. The economy is the big story and the wars around the world.

And the fact that it is now already a secondary story in and of itself speaks to how far America has come. It was not an issue in this campaign, and it's not an issue today.

And that's a tribute to where America is today in terms of its acceptance and tolerance of other cultures, ethnicities, and races. It is an amazing story that would happen nowhere in the world.

ANGLE: Jeff, there was another interesting story that was big news in the campaign early on, but as things got better in Iraq, the news coverage dwindled, even shriveled. And now that things are substantially better, there is almost no coverage.

BIRNBAUM: That's one of the most amazing stories of the year, in my view. One of the reasons why Barack Obama was able to pull off the upset in Iowa was that he had a strongly get out of Iraq position, stronger than the other Democrats, and beat Hillary Clinton by winning the Democratic base.

But General Petraeus, in the meantime, started a surge policy that made everything irrelevant, basically, that won the war in Iraq, to say it briefly.

And so that Barack Obama is in the same place as the Iraqi prime minister and as the American people, basically, to get out of Iraq in an orderly fashion, and as soon as possible, basically, which is in a matter of just a couple short years.

And so what was the major issue at the beginning of this year is now a non-issue at the end of 2008.

ANGLE: Economic issues were also big this year. My favorite was all the angst on Capitol Hill about going after the oil speculators for driving up the price. Now, I suppose, people are calling for an investigation because they have driven the price down so far that people won't be buying energy-efficient cars and it will wreak havoc with everything.

But the state of the economy, Charles, obviously, as the year ends, is the number one story.

KRAUTHAMMER: I think it will be the big story, the crash in the market unlike any in decades.

And it is also a human interest story. The man at the center of it, Henry Paulson, the man who was a successful businessman who accepted the job of Secretary of the Treasury as a way to shepherd in forms of Social Security.

And all of a sudden gets hit with the worst crisis ever, and he's not quite sure what to do. One day he saves Bear Stearns, another day lets Lehman go down. I'm not an expert, but either one or the other is right, but not both.

And I'm waiting for his story of how it all affected him, and how he tried to figure out--

BIRNBAUM: This is the other reversal you are talking about, that he came in as anti-government guy, and now he's the biggest pro- government activist of all time, basically, at the U.S. Treasury, and there is an unprecedented amount of nationalization of major industries in this country as a way to avoid a real economic downturn.

Bill, a big year for the media.

SAMMON: The year that journalism died, to borrow a phrase I first heard from Roger Ailes. I never thought the press could become more biased until I saw what happened during the coverage of the Obama campaign.

Unbelievable that "The Washington Post" ombudsman admitted afterwards that they were basically in the tank for him. We had people talking about thrill up my leg when they heard Obama's speech.

We even had "The New York Times" do a story insinuating that John McCain had an affair with a lobbyist, Vicky Iseman. And just yesterday we learned that Vicky Iseman is now suing "The New York Times" for $27 million.

The media really had a bad year in 2008. It will take a long time to recover.

For more visit the FOX News Special Report web page.

FOX News Special Report With Brit Hume

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