The week between Christmas and New Year's is a time to reflect. Christmas parties and dinners are over, presents have been enjoyed or are at least in the process of being exchanged, and New Year parties are still to come. The year 2005 is waiting its turn a few days from now, but for now, we can consider what 2004 brought us.
For all the other momentous events of the year - the massive earthquake and tidal waves that have wrought destruction on Southeast Asia, the passing last summer of President Ronald Reagan, the extraordinary triumph of democracy in Ukraine - what stands out above all is the 2004 presidential election campaign.
This was the year Americans affirmed their support for President Bush and his policies, confounding the media, the pundits, elite opinion and the Democratic leadership. If the presidency of George W. Bush proves a historic turning point in American history, the year 2004 was what made it so.
In the words of the protagonists, let's sample some of the memorable moments of the presidential campaign.
For those who still wonder why Democratic challenger John Kerry did not win, despite being the party's great hope, a selection of quotes which may explain why Democrats failed in popular appeal.
Teresa Heinz Kerry, wife of the Democratic presidential candidate, rebuffing a reporter who had said something she didn't like: "You said something I didn't say. Now shove it!"
Al Sharpton, presidential candidate during a primary debate in South Carolina, talking about Mr. Bush's tax cuts: "It's like Jim Jones giving you Kool-Aid. It tastes good but it will kill you."
Carol Moseley Braun, presidential candidate, on the war in Iraq: "I am reminded of the true story of my parent's worst argument: The toilet broke, and there was water going everywhere. My mother sent my father to the hardware store. He came back with a new lawnmower. That's what really happened to us in this country. We were chasing bin Laden, and they gave up."
Mr. Kerry, Democratic presidential candidate, when asked if he would have gone to war against Saddam Hussein if he refused to disarm: "You bet we might have."
Mr. Kerry on the supplemental appropriation for the war in Afghanistan and Iraq: "I actually did vote for the $87 billion, before I voted against it."
Terry McAuliffe, chairman of the Democratic Party, on election night: "This is the best election night in history."
On the Republican side, the arguments were better, but statements, quips and gaffes were equally memorable:
Mr. Bush talking to the Republican Governors Association: "The candidates are an interesting group with diverse opinions, for tax cuts, and against them... for and against the Patriot Act, in favor of liberating Iraq and opposed to it. And that's just one senator from Massachusetts."
Mr. Bush on the war on terror: "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."
Mr. Bush, also on the war on terror: "Free societies are hopeful societies. And free societies will be allies against these hateful few who have no conscience, who kill at the whim of a hat."
Mr. Bush on the problem of medical malpractice lawsuits: "Too many good docs are getting out of the business. Too many OB-GYNs aren't able to practice their love with women all across this country."
Mr. Bush during a visit to California: "It's great to be in the Inland Empire. With the 38th governor of the great state of California. We did have a good visit, and during that visit I was able to reflect upon how much we have in common. We both married well. Some accuse us both of not being able to speak the language. We both have big biceps. Well, two out of three isn't bad."
Vice President Dick Cheney to Sen. John Edwards during the vice presidential debate: "I'm up in the Senate most Tuesdays when they're in session. The first time I ever met you was when you walked on this stage tonight." (They had apparently met three times, but Mr. Edwards had failed to leave any impression whatsoever.)
First daughter Jenna Bush, at the Republican convention, "Gammie, we love you dearly, but you're just not very hip. She thinks 'Sex and the City' is something married people do, but never talk about."
Sen. Zell Miller to "Hardball" host Chris Matthews, during a heated interview at the Republican convention: "I wish we lived in the day where you could challenge a person to a duel."
Helle Dale is director of Foreign Policy and Defense Studies at the Heritage Foundation. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org .
First appeared in The Washington Times