It’ll be up to historians to decide whether 2013 actually reached a sort of Peak Asshole event, from which there had to be an inevitable decline, or whether it was simply another new high before year another new high, as Complete Asshole levels rise in correlation with global temperatures. Whatever the historians decide, however, from the inside it certainly seemed like the assholes were out in force in 2013, mad to leave the streak marks of their existence all over the pages of the year. What’s terrifying is it wasn’t even an election year. This makes me want to hide under a blanket for the whole of 2014.
Who’s on my finalist list of complete assholes for 2013? Well, let me tell you — and then you can vote for which one of my finalists you’d choose.
Barack Obama: Surprised? Don’t be — between the NSA stuff and the complete bungling of the Healthcare.gov Web site, he’s earned the spot. The NSA issues are the more existentially troubling items, but it’s the Healthcare.gov thing that makes me want to smack the dude upside the head. It’s like, Jesus, man, you just crushed the GOP on the government shutdown thing, now all you have to do to rip out their spines for the whole next election cycle is just have a fucking Web site that works. It’s like his finishing move was tripping at the finish line into a flaming pit of spikes and alligators.
(And no, he didn’t code the thing. But you know what? If I were president and the way that people were going to connect with the one thing that will cement my legacy as the leader of the nation was through a Web site, I would have damn well made sure the thing actually functioned. And yes, I know about the DDoS attacks. If Obama’s team didn’t know those were coming after everything leading up to the site going live, that’s indicative of a larger problem).
Look, I think the ACA is a good thing. So when even I am exasperated with this fuck up, there’s a problem. His saving grace with me is that I think he’s less of an asshole than others on the list. But at this point, five years into your presidency, not being ready for prime time makes you an asshole, period.
Rob Ford: You know, down here in the United States, we have a surplus of asshole politicians, so it really takes effort for one from Canada to not only impinge on our consciousness but also to impress. And partly that’s our fault; if the Harper administration has shown us anything it’s that Canadians are just as capable of electing assholes into office as we are. So, sorry, Canada. But on the other hand Rob Ford really is something special. It’s like if Chris Farley lived, lost any shred of loveableness, dropped 30 IQ points and started bragging about his oral sex skills. There’s nothing there that doesn’t scream “asshole.” So thank you, Toronto, for letting us know this uptick in assholes isn’t just a US thing.
Tech Dudes: 2012 had comic book and science fiction dudes front and center as assholes of the year, but this year they got tapped out of the ring by tech dudes, who have more money and apparently even more social entitlement, whether crapping on women or the homeless, or pushing to break up an entire state of California so they don’t have to deal with, you know, the dirty dirty people who do other things they don’t. Sure, they apologized (except the one trying to break up California, who is still at it). That’s nice. You shouldn’t need the whole Internet to drop on your head before you realize you’re being a jackass.
You know, I love tech and I have many friends and fans who make their living in tech-related fields — hell, I’m working on a video game as we speak. And not nearly everyone in tech is an asshole, thank God, just as not nearly everyone in comic books and science fiction are assholes. But there are some days when what I’d really like to do is tell all the ones who are that we’ve approved their sea-stead, let them float out into the Great Pacific Trash Gyre and then watch their pocket nation of assholes burn once they figure out some of them will have to gut fish and clean sewers, and then fall in on themselves in an utterly vicious game of “not it.” Don’t worry, in their absence Silicon Valley would be fine — turns out you don’t actually have to be a smug, fake-meritocratic libertarian in order to innovate and code. Funny about that.
Justin Bieber: Who knew that being young and rich and famous with no one on your payroll to tell you “no” would turn you into a complete asshole? Well, in point of fact, nearly everyone knows that, since it’s a tale as old as time. Justin Beiber is the one who got to tell it in 2013, just in time for his teen idol shine to transfer over to One Direction, who should enjoy their next couple of years. Save up your money, guys! Justin can tell you why. Let’s hope in a decade he’ll re-emerge as not a total tool of a human being.
Ted Cruz: This guy, I tell you. He’s like the Platonic ideal of an asshole. He’s the poster child of assholes everywhere, the one that young ambitious assholes look at and say, wow, he’s not about anything other than himself and wants what he wants because he wants it and I wish that was me. It take a special sort of asshole to talk for 21 hours on the Senate floor and have it not be filibuster but to pretend it is and also pretend that it did anything other then self-aggrandizement, but that’s Ted Cruz for you.
Likewise, there’s only one name for the sort of asshole to maneuvers to shut down the government without an end game planned out, and again, that’s Ted Cruz. He’s like Newt Gingrich minus the charm or political saavy, which is saying something absolutely terrifying. Gringrich is famously known as a “dumb person’s idea of a smart person”; Cruz is an asshole’s idea of a principled statesman.
(This is the spot where I’m supposed to insert a joke about Texas, but at this point I feel mostly sorry for Texas. Maybe they intended to elect an asshole to the Senate, but I don’t imagine they understood the magnitude of the asshole they actually sent along. Some things are too big even for Texas.)
What really burns me about Cruz is that he’s one of my generation — a Gen-Xer, and it embarrasses the shit out of me that the two most prominent national politicians in my age cohort are him and Paul Ryan, i.e., the current poster boy for the GOP’s Intellectual Poverty. Seriously, Gen X, what the hell.
Also: Cory Booker, speaking to you as a fellow Gen-Xer, you have a lot to make up for here. Get to it, please.
And now, a poll:
If you want to nominate someone else as the biggest asshole of the year, go ahead and do it in the comments. Do me a favor, however, and limit it to actual public personalities, i.e., don’t nominate a co-worker or some random dude you saw online. Thanks.