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Whatever happened to last year's breakout stars?
Oh dear God, here it comes: Another delusional media cycle in which we’ll be tortured by “thoughtful” analytic pieces about how the GOP is going to learn from its mistakes, part a zillion. Spare me.
Politico has an interesting read today about how Republican donors are frightened by their crazy congressional dependents, who almost blew up the world economy, and are looking for ways to rein them in. That would be nice, except it only quotes three big donors on the record, and one of them weighs in to say he’s 100 percent behind the party. AP and the Washington Post report that the GOP “establishment” wants to take back the party from Tea Party crazies. Except AP quotes Iowa Gov. Terry Branstead as an “establishment” figure who sees Rep. Paul Ryan as a reasonable emerging leader.
Yes, that’s the Paul Ryan who tried to remove the contraception mandate from the Affordable Care Act, as part of the shutdown/default hostage negotiations, and who voted against the final congressional compromise – which means he voted for default.
Next we’ll learn Reince Priebus is doing an autopsy of his autopsy. Yes, Priebus is trying to sound reasonable now too, even though he cast his lot behind Tailgunner Ted Cruz, the man who was ready to destroy the country in order to save it. Priebus said he “would stand behind Ted Cruz any day.” Clearly donors who disagree shouldn’t be funding the Republican National Committee. But Politico didn’t find one donor who would say on the record that he or she was going to punish Priebus and Co.
Even worse, Politico reports that hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer is one of the upset donors – but Singer doesn’t have a problem with the Tea Party “per se.” In fact, Singer is a big supporter of the Club for Growth, which helped drive this train; the group just announced it will support a primary challenge to ultra-right Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran after he voted for the default-avoidance deal.
It should be clear: The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun to the head of the global economy is a good guy who makes it unthinkable for the bad guy to use the gun, and that requires Democrats to stay as tough as they’ve been in this fight.
And probably get even tougher. I’m wishing for a Democratic Karl Rove who’ll run ads in the home districts of all 144 Republicans who voted against Wednesday’s deal, to make clear that their representative voted to default. Oh, sure, the pearl-clutchers at Politifact might not like it, but that’s what they did. There was no time to negotiate an alternative bill; the Treasury ran out of money the next day. A vote against the bill was a vote in favor of defaulting. Democrats need to hammer that home.
Short of that, I’m pleased that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who deserves enormous credit for stiffening his party’s spine this time around, is insisting there will be no “entitlement” cuts just to replace the sequester slashing. I also enjoyed Reid flat-out declaring to the Huffington Post that Sen. David Vitter, prostitute patron turned slasher of congressional employee benefits, “is not playing with a full deck.” Reid pointed to his head and said, “Something is wrong there.”
Something is very much wrong there, and throughout the Republican Party.
Over in the Senate, most of the 19 men who voted against the bill – and they were all men, the Senate’s 20 women all voted to save the global economy – come from reliably red states and probably won’t face much backlash for their destructive vote. But there are a few exceptions. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is known to want to run for president in 2016. That’s good, because he’s up for reelection to the Senate that same year, and given his shameful vote to pauperize Florida’s senior citizens with a default that would have stopped their Social Security checks, he should face defeat.
Likewise, in the purple state of Wisconsin, Sen. Ron Johnson tried to have it both ways during the October stalemate. Sure, he’d criticize his colleague Cruz once in a while. But Johnson emerged as a leading Default Truther, insisting that hitting the deadline would have merely been a “cash management” problem well within the power of Treasury Secretary Jack Lew to handle. Ultimately, Johnson too voted for default. Wisconsin can do better, and especially with Johnson, like Rubio, running in a presidential election year, it ought to be able to send Johnson home to manage his own cash, not ours. (Pennsylvania’s Pat Toomey, up the same year, should be on the same train.)
Even Ted Cruz ought to worry. He’s probably running for president, but if he doesn’t, or if he runs and loses (as he surely would), by 2018 his Texas Senate seat shouldn’t even be safe anymore. Democrats should play their hand well enough to turn Texas blue again.
They need to make clear: The 144 House members and 19 senators are the Default Caucus, and they can’t be trusted to do the right thing for the country. We already know this: “Responsible” Republicans can’t be trusted to do the right thing and stop their colleagues. We’ve already seen how well that worked in 2012.
Joan Walsh is Salon's editor at large and the author of "What's the Matter With White People: Finding Our Way in the Next America." More Joan Walsh.
The star of “Beasts of the Southern Wild” charmed practically everyone at the Oscars, where she was the youngest best actress nominee ever; she went on to film a remake of “Annie” opposite Jamie Foxx and Cameron Diaz.
Carly Rae Jepsen
Jepsen, who had 2012’s song of the summer with “Call Me Maybe,” released the fifth and final single from her debut album in January 2013. She toured the U.S. in mid-2013 -- just as Daft Punk and Robin Thicke battled to succeed her as icons of the summer.
Honey Boo Boo
2012’s biggest reality star, the young pageant contestant Alana Thompson, had a quieter time this year, with a second season whose ratings were strong but whose buzz was a bit muted. America was, by now, accustomed to young Thompson, and outraged or scandalized reactions were reserved for other TLC programming, like “The Man With the 132-Pound Scrotum.”
Ocean missed out on the top Grammys for which he was nominated in early 2013; he bounced back quickly with featured appearances on albums by Kanye West, Jay Z and Beyoncé, and is at work on a new album. Things are looking up!
The “21 Jump Street” and “Magic Mike” star had a marginally less charmed 2013, with “White House Down” failing to connect with moviegoers and “Foxcatcher” delayed until next year. It may get worse before it gets better: His big 2014 sci-fi flick, “Jupiter Ascending,” looks … well, a little weird!
With their third album in 21 months hitting No. 1 immediately upon its fall 2013 release, the boy band that broke into America in 2012 would seem to be here to stay for a while. Still, they looked a bit nervous in their reaction shots during the Video Music Awards’ ‘N Sync reunion; maybe not this year, maybe not next, but eventually, the Justin of One Direction is going to break out. For now, though, things look good!
Lana Del Rey
The famously uncomfortable “Saturday Night Live” musical guest overcame endless mockery from 2012 to land her first top-10 hit in the summer of 2013 -- a remix of a year-old song, “Summertime Sadness.” As the co-writer of “Young and Beautiful,” the love theme from “The Great Gatsby,” Del Rey is such a front-runner for the best original song Oscar (last won by Adele) that there has been a direct-mail campaign to academy voters against her. The song was also played at the most romantic event of the year: Kanye West’s stadium marriage proposal to Kim Kardashian.
Wilson, who charmed fans of 2012’s “Pitch Perfect,” had a rockier 2013, with her sitcom “Super Fun Night” struggling creatively and in the ratings. Her next planned movies are both sequels, to “Kung Fu Panda” and -- hoping lightning will strike twice -- to “Pitch Perfect.”
Another 2012 music icon, Gotye won the record of the year trophy at the 2013 Grammys for “Somebody That I Used to Know.” He released no new singles in 2013, and has told the press he has been struggling to complete new material. Good luck, Gotye!
The golden boy of the 2012 Olympics, without feats of aquatic derring-do to distract the public this year, saw his always-tenuous persona completely shift from “amiable jock” into “utter dolt” with his E! reality series. Worst of all, the series was canceled.
In 2012, the young actress -- best known for her role in the indie “Winter’s Bone” and a supporting part in the “X-Men” franchise -- had marquee roles in the first “Hunger Games” film and in David O. Russell’s comedy “Silver Linings Playbook.” In 2013, she played to her strengths: After winning an Oscar, she starred in the second “Hunger Games” movie, on whose publicity tour she managed to charm everyone in America, and had another role in a David O. Russell comedy, “American Hustle,” for which she might just win ANOTHER Oscar. By 2014, she may end up running a major studio, or serving as president.
The breakout bikini model of 2012 made a repeat appearance on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue -- and got to do high-fashion spreads in Elle, Vogue and Vanity Fair. She was cast in a Cameron Diaz comedy, too. Some types of appeal are eternal!
E. L. James
The “50 Shades” novelist now gets to help share some input into a movie adaptation set for release in 2015. She probably never needs to work again! Isn’t that great? Isn’t that … just … great?
The “Gangnam Style” phenom performed at New Year’s 2013, but will spend New Year’s 2014 flipping channels to find his pistachio ad, his goofy antics having been outdone in the past year by “The Fox” singers Ylvis. Nothing meme can stay.
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