Picking Losers

The American Enterprise Institute, one of the premier U.S. think tanks, has presented former Australian Prime Minister John Howard with the Irving Kristol Award for 2008. The award, AEI states, is for "individuals who have made exceptional intellectual or practical contributions to improved government policy, social welfare, or political understanding." Howard, AEI gushed, "is one of the world's most successful democratic politicians." While Howard did win four elections, AEI doesn't mention that he made history by being only the second serving Prime Minister to lose his own parliamentary seat. Howard also led his party to a humiliating defeat in the November 2007 election. Many of Howard's hallmark policies -- his support for radical anti-union policies, his refusal to support the Kyoto Protocol to combat rising greenhouse gas emissions, his support for domestic nuclear power plants and his refusal to apologize to indigenous Australians for former governments' policies of separating children from their parents -- have subsequently been jettisoned by his own party.