The Most Popular Posts Of 2013

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We haven’t done this before, so I figured: why not? One way of looking back at the past year is through the Dish’s most popular posts. And they do give a flavor of the year. None of them come close to the 62 million page-views that the home page got this past year, but they’re stand-outs nonetheless.

Our most popular by far was simply a viral breakout – the kind of thing that now defines much of online journalism. It’s a truly simple blog-post: a headline, a link, a graphic, a pull-quote and then some commentary and analysis from yours truly. It has everything a viral blog post should have, and I didn’t even spend a month at Upworthy to come up with it (which is why it’s so rare, I guess). It’s The Saddest Map In America from last February with more than 275,000 views. Next up: a summary of the entire political year: The Nullification Party, from October, with 209,000.

Then: How To Think About Obamacare, another very simple and short post that took off unexpectedly. Money quote:

The thing that staggers me about the Republican hatred of this law is its abstract quality. They never address the real problem of our massively inefficient private healthcare market, which is a huge burden on the economy. They never address how to help the millions of uninsured adults get the care all human beings need. They appear to regard a Heritage Foundation, free-market-designed, private healthcare exchange system as some kind of communist plot. They do not seem to believe there is any pressing problem at all. And they have nothing constructive to offer.

This is not about Obamacare. It is not even about politics. It is about a form of revolt against the very country they live in.

What strikes me about the traffic for a post like this is that it doesn’t have to be Buzzfeedy to work. It just has to say something and stand for something.

Fourth: a gossipy post after Pope Benedict’s resignation: Two Popes, One Secretary. Fifth: Cameron Proves Greenwald Right, my defense of Glenn’s partner, David Miranda, from creepy anti-terrorism harassment at Heathrow. Sixth: Kerry Gaffes; The Russians Blink, my post as diplomacy on Syria took a sudden lurch in early September. Seventh: A&E Cannot Bear Very Much Reality, my recent post opposing the firing of Phil Robertson from Duck Dynasty. Eighth: The GOP Calls Its Own Fiscal Bluff, my take on Paul Ryan’s bullshit on debt reduction. Ninth: The Tea Party As A Religion. Money quote:

What the understandably beleaguered citizens of this new modern order want is a pristine variety of America that feels like the one they grew up in. They want truths that ring without any timbre of doubt. They want root-and-branch reform – to the days of the American Revolution. And they want all of this as a pre-packaged ideology, preferably aligned with re-written American history, and reiterated as a theater of comfort and nostalgia. They want their presidents white and their budget balanced now. That balancing it now would tip the whole world into a second depression sounds like elite cant to them; that America is, as a matter of fact, a coffee-colored country – and stronger for it – does not remove their desire for it not to be so; indeed it intensifies their futile effort to stop immigration reform. And given the apocalyptic nature of their view of what is going on, it is only natural that they would seek a totalist, radical, revolutionary halt to all of it, even if it creates economic chaos, even if it destroys millions of jobs, even though it keeps millions in immigration limbo, even if it means an unprecedented default on the debt.

This is a religion – but a particularly modern, extreme and unthinking fundamentalist religion. And such a form of religion is the antithesis of the mainline Protestantism that once dominated the Republican party as well, to a lesser extent, the Democratic party.

Last up a guilty pleasure: my post on a certain Wall Street Journal columnist who saw in the “scandals” of the first part of this year a crippling crisis for president Obama: Noonan Just Loses It.

How do they all hold up? Your call. The only one I’m now squeamish about is the gossipy one about Benedict’s close companion Georg Ganschwein. The others? They suggest to me that the biggest story of the past year was the dysfunction and extremism of one political party that had just been defeated soundly at the polls. Sometimes, the fleeting perceptions of a passing scene may be more accurate than a view with a little distance. Right now, we’re all fixated on Obama’s crisis of leadership. But that masks a deeper one.