March... Sadness, Part XXI: We Have a Winner (a Loser?)
Readers will recall that, back in March, we commenced an effort to identify the worst political figure in America. Here are all the
previous entries in that series, should you care to review:
- March... Sadness, Part I (Round of 64, Part I)
- March... Sadness, Part II (Round of 64, Part II)
- March... Sadness, Part III (Executive Branch, Round 2)
- March... Sadness, Part IV (Judges and Governors, Round 2)
- March... Sadness, Part V (The Legislative Branch, Round 2)
- March... Sadness, Part VI (Others, Round 2)
- March... Sadness, Part VII (Executive Branch, Round 3)
- March... Sadness, Part VIII (Judges and Governors, Round 3)
- March... Sadness, Part IX (Legislative Branch, Round 3)
- March... Sadness, Part X (Others, Round 3)
- March... Sadness, Part XI (Executive Branch, Round 4)
- March... Sadness, Part XII (Judges and Governors, Round 4)
- March... Sadness, Part XIII (Legislative Branch, Round 4)
- March... Sadness, Part XIV (Others, Round 4)
- March... Sadness, Part XV (Final Four, Part I)
- March... Sadness, Part XVI (Final Four, Part II)
- March... Sadness, Part XVII (The Also-Rans)
- March... Sadness, Part XVIII (This One's For All the Marbles)
- March... Sadness, Part XIX (The Write-Ins)
- March... Sadness, Part XX (The Ten Also-Rans)
It was very difficult to remain in sync with the actual NCAA March Madness tournament, which inspired the whole
thing. And once that particular pressure was no longer in operation, it was easy for more pressing news to get in the
way. We have to write the serious stuff up first, and between that and our real-life responsibilities, the "bonus" stuff
sometimes gets pushed aside... for a long time.
But now it's time to finally bring this baby home. Recall that we determined the final winner (loser?) with a
championship matchup, but we also created a "consolation round" for those who did not make the championship, just to
make sure that serious venality did not go unrecognized. And with that reminder out of the way, here are the dozen worst
political figures in America, as voted on by you folks, with thoughts from us and comments from readers:
- Legislative Branch #12 Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV)
Our Take: The worst showing for a Democratic politician. It presumably says something about
both the readership and the Republican Party that it's nearly all Republicans in the Top 10 (along with a few
whose politics are not known, or who are not American).
M.S. in Westchester County, NY: I voted for Manchin, not because of the temper tantrum over
Build Back Better and his corruption, which is bad enough, but for his treachery regarding Freedom to Vote/John Lewis Voting Rights
Advancement Act. It was his bill!
D.R.J. in Oberlin, OH: I voted Joe Manchin for placing his ego and greed ahead of progress
that would benefit all Americans.
- Others #7 Trump adviser and lawyer Rudy Giuliani
Our Take: Giuliani is already fading quickly into irrelevance. Would he make the Top 12
if the voting was next year?
D.B. in Keedysville, MD: Giuliani is just rather pathetic, at this point. He needs to be put
away somewhere, where his wild ravings can't hurt anyone anymore. Sad!
- Legislative Branch "Last Four Out" Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH)
Our Take: Whereas Giuliani might drop in the rankings a year from now, Jordan is set to
rise due to the platform he's likely to get as chair of the House Judiciary Committee.
M.B. in Pittsboro, NC: I very much appreciate the chance to acknowledge the wickedness of two
sorry excuses for human beings in Jordan and Stephen Miller. At least Jordan is an elected official, somewhat exposed to
public scrutiny... although apparently his lack of concern about the sex abuse visited upon the young wrestlers that
were his responsibility is not a sufficient reason for the voters of Ohio's 4th district to unelect him. But Stephen
Miller is even more dangerous. Most Americans don't know he exists and continues to function at the highest levels of
government, whispering in Trump's ear and encouraging the most cruel and draconian opinions and policies, especially on
immigration. I keep waiting for some oppo-research to uncover the truth about him, but because he's barely in the
public's awareness, even something utterly reprehensible in his life would probably not get much coverage. He is a
horror, and deserves to be shown publicly as the villain he is.
- Facebook/Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg
Our Take: And remember, this voting took place before he unceremoniously laid off 10,000
employees. Zuckerberg is going to play the same role in history books as the robber barons of the 19th century.
L.E. in Santa Barbara, CA: When considering all of the choices, I had to rank both Rupert
Murdoch and Mark Zuckerberg in the top five, over Vladamir Putin and Xi Jinping. Why? Because I have always expected
foreign, hostile nations (and even some "friendly" ones) to muck around in our politics and lives. However, without
Murdoch and Zuckerberg amplifying and enabling the mucking over the past several years, these hostile nations never
would have had the impact and successes that they have had and are having.
- Executive Branch #9 Former vice president Dick Cheney
Our Take: We got dozens of e-mails explaining why Cheney deserves to be in the Top 5
(Bottom 5?), and more than half of them specifically referred to him as Darth Cheney. Interesting.
T.T. in Minden, LA: Can there be any doubt that Donald Trump is the winner? I'm boldly
predicting it. But as to the consolation round, I pick Darth Cheney. Would you ever have believed, ten years ago, that
this man would so soon be a distant also-ran for the most damaging political figure? The guy who masterminded the U.S.
launching of an unprovoked invasion? The architect of an overarching state security apparatus (the DHS) that sucks in
billions of dollars per annum with limited oversight and control but almost unlimited reach? The arch-villain who not
only made torture a U.S. policy, but helped popularize euphemisms referring to it (black ops, extraordinary rendition,
enhanced interrogation methods)? Donald Trump truly deserves the "prize" for this contest, if for nothing else than
for helping Cheney's crimes disappear down the memory hole, and making George Bush, who was nominally Cheney's boss,
seem so normal in retrospect.
D.B. in Keedysville, MD: I still consider Dick Cheney to be the Lex Luthor of American
politics, although I recognize that folks younger than I might just call him Darth Cheney. More than any other single
person, he is responsible for the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives lost and the trillions of dollars (that's a "T,"
as in a million dollars, taken several million times!) wasted on the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. Working with his
ignominious partners, Paul Wolfowitz and, in particular, Douglas Feith, head of the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans,
whose mission was to propagandize the American people into buying the Iraq War (which is, just by the way, against the,
um, law an' stuff), they misrepresented or lied about every bit of cherry-picked information they could find to convince
us to go to war.
- Fox media mogul Rupert Murdoch
Our Take: Murdoch might be the only person here who is hated even more in the U.K. than
he is in the U.S.
M.B. in Melrose, MA: Fox News fuels anger and hatred, using Democrats as the scapegoat,
dividing our country. While Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson are horrible humans, they would not have a platform without Murdoch.
F.L. in Denton, TX: Radix malorum est Murdoch.
- Executive Branch #16 Former White House senior advisor Stephen Miller
Our Take: Miller is someone who would have gone far, if not for the fact that he ended up in
a first-round matchup against Trump. We'll do another tournament next year, albeit with a different subject, and we'll
find a better way to do the seeding.
S.G. in Newark, NJ: He's an utter embarrassment, a disgrace to his people and an insult to the
S.H. in Phnom Penh, Cambodia: By most reports wielded significant influence on Trump, and
along with Bannon when he was present, was responsible for deliberately ensuring that Trump's policies had overtly ugly,
punch-you-in-the-face qualities to warm the hearts of the American Brownshirts.
- Russian president Vladimir Putin
Our Take: The only reason he is not higher is that the instructions specifically asked voters
to place the most weight on how the person impacted American society and politics.
M.S. in Westchester County, NY: I voted for Putin for this reason: He affected the result of
the 2016 election through the release of the Hillary Clinton and DNC emails and gave us Donald Trump. We still do not know the true story of the
relationship between these two. He is poised to interfere again in 2024. He also has a powerful lackey in
Tucker Carlson. The one, most basic argument that needs to be addressed by the Democrats is the survival of democracy. If
Ukraine isn't a wake up call, what is?
B.H. in Westborough, MA: The Ukraine war—U.N. estimates 14,200-14,400 Ukrainians dead so
far, and estimates of 18,900 Russian Soldiers dead. Reports of rape and torture of Ukrainian women.
- Others #2 Fox personality Tucker Carlson
Our Take: What is most scary about Carlson is that he doesn't believe most of the things
he says, but he is able to make it seem as if he does believe. Surely there is significant socoiopathy there, right?
A.H. in Columbus, OH: My top four votes in the Also-Rans list were easy...but for my fifth
vote I was torn. I specifically thought about your admonition "that the focus is specifically on negative impact on
America and American politics" and felt there really should be an evangelical leader like Billy Graham, et al., in the
running for their very negative impact on America and American politics by weaponizing faith. The problem I came up
against is: I can't choose just one. So I chose Tucker Carlson, because F that guy.
J.P.M. in Eagle Mills, NY: Thanks for including Zuckerberg and Murdoch in this listing. They
were easy, as were Addison McConnell and John Roberts. But oh, picking that last spot between **cker Carlson and Jim
Jordan was tough. Carlson won, just because he has more negative influence at the moment.
- Legislative Branch #2 Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
Our Take: We took extraordinary steps to reshuffle the deck, doing something (a consolation
round) that isn't actually a part of the NCAA Tournament (at least, not anymore). And still, McConnell and Carlson
took third and fourth place. The cream always rises to the top, and the scum always sinks to the bottom.
S.L. in Newark, DE: Thank you for giving me another chance to vote for McConnell.
B.H. in Westborough, MA: McConnell is more evil over the long term than even Trump.
- Judges and Governors #5 Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL)
Our Take: From the moment we announced the bracket, we thought this result was inevitable.
The only other contender for second place was McConnell, but he's a known commodity whereas the future harm that
DeSantis might do is both significant and unknowable.
T.B.S.S. in Silver Spring, MD: Ron DeSantis often gets mischaracterized (here and elsewhere)
as "Trump, but competent" or "Trump with a brain." I don't think it's quite that simple.
We've seen Donald Trump's central motivation for many decades now. He seeks power because—as with money, buildings,
women, magazine covers, gold toilets, and so on—it helps feed his bottomless need to see himself as the world's most
excellent and important winner.
DeSantis, on the other hand, seems to be animated largely by a desire to punish his political enemies—not merely
defeat them electorally, but actually harm them, using every lever of power at his disposal. That sadistic political
bloodlust scares me more than Trump's corrosive, all-consuming narcissism. But even if it didn't, the degree to which
the former president would hate losing to DeSantis (even in a poll like this) makes this an easy vote for me.
D.E. in Lancaster, PA: So here we are at Sauron vs Voldemort; Darth Maul vs Darth Sidious;
Elagabalus vs Caligula; Thanos vs Doctor Doom; Iago vs Macbeth; Harry Mudd vs Khan Noonien Singh; Mean Mr. Mustard vs
Maxwell's Silver Hammer—and yes, I picked the pairings of villains with some snark in mind. Today
I read that Trump was scared of killer fruit being lobbed at him during his rallies. On the other hand, DeSantis appears
to have a deathly fear of general human decency and that he might inadvertently miss one culture war trope to ride all
the way to the glue factory.
If DeSantis were to become president, no books would be written about
his time in office, as he will probably ban all books that aren't propaganda. I know we're not supposed to judge a
book by its cover but when I look at Trump, I can't help but see a clown and a con-man. When I look at DeSantis I see a
fascist and a thug. Trump doesn't have the intelligence or the attention to detail that was needed to destroy our
democracy whereas DeSantis has the base cunning and lack of ethics to make sure to stab it fatally with his steely
knives. Clearly DeSantis' "conscious hath a thousand several tongues, and every tongue brings in a several tale, and
every tale condemns (him) for a villain." He is surely the worst of the worst! The idea of a future with DeSantis as
president brings this to mind: "An empire toppled by its enemies can rise again. But one that crumbles from within,
that's dead. Forever."
- Executive Branch #1 Former president Donald Trump Sr.
Our Take: There was absolutely nothing we could do—no way of organizing the bracket,
no way of writing the instructions—that could stop this from happening. Remember that we did the seedings by
searching Google for "hate" and "[person]" and then using the number of results that produced. Well, if you do that
for Trump, you get 58,700,000 hits. That's more than the rest of the field... combined.
T.B. in Bay Shore, NY: For a second, I had a "Red button meme" moment on this one but then I
realized you gotta dance with the one that brought you, and for this dance it was always El Cheeto. Sure, Ron DeSatan is
a more polished version of Trump but he is merely the weed that grew out of the nasty orange soil curated from his
D.S. in Havertown, PA: Was this one ever truly in doubt? Sure, McConnell is vile and has
horribly damaged democracy, DeSantis is one of the most openly bigoted individuals in office in this century, Tucker is
just a fire hose of hate, and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is all of the above except in Mexico when the power's out. But one
fact rises above all others. Of all of these men (interesting that not a lot of women made it very far in this race to
the bottom), one thing separates the guy who is small-hands-down the winner. Despite what Ron thinks, Trump is the only
one who has any hope of winning a national election. Even if it means stealing it. So, Trump has my...choke,
gasp...vot—no... can't even finish typing it.
And there you have it. If you would like to view the entire bracket, it's
So, why did we finally wrap this up today? Because we're going to launch a very similar sort of thing tomorrow based
on the format of the World Cup. It won't be bad politicians competing, though. It will be... well, as we said, there was
a big hint in one of the headlines of
It's definitely something with much less of a negative vibe than this particular contest. (Z)
This item appeared on www.electoral-vote.com. Read it Monday through Friday for political and election news,
Saturday for answers to reader's questions, and Sunday for letters from readers.
All Senate candidates