'Special Report' panel's year-end winners and losers

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report with Bret Baier," December 31, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

ED HENRY, GUEST ANCHOR: And we're back with our panel. I have been waiting for this all day, our winners and losers for the year. We had Toby Keith tee everything up with the losers and all of that in the bar. Steve, you're first.

STEVE HAYES, 'THE WEEKLY STANDARD': My winner might want make us all want to start drinking because my winner is Al Qaeda, ISIS, and like-minded jihadists.

In 2012 and 2013 we heard consistently from the Obama administration that the war on terror was ending and had to end. It would make the United States safer. I think if you look back at 2014 which began with President Obama dismissing ISIS as a jayvee group, something we didn't have to be concerned about, and we trace the evolution of ISIS itself, the expansion of Al Qaeda, the strengthening of like-minded groups and affiliates elsewhere throughout the region and throughout the world, I think we end 2014 and it's very clear that Al Qaeda, ISIS and like-minded groups, offshoots of those groups, are in a much, much better position today than they were at the beginning of the year.

HENRY: A.B., your winner?

A.B. STODDARD, THE HILL: Mine is happier. It's the Catholic Church and Pope Francis.

Whether you agree with him or not he has rejuvenated the Catholic Church which was dispirited and scandal-plagued and he has become an immensely popular figure. Check the latest Pew Poll numbers of his approval rating around the world. And at a time when trust in institutions and our leaders is sort of a quaint notion of the past, I think it's a really good story.

HENRY: Charles is not happy he got involved in climate change. I'm not sure he agrees. Winner?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Yes, but I did that last night. You only attack the pope once.


HENRY: You have got to move on. Winners?

KRAUTHAMMER: The Castro brothers.

They had to wait through 10 presidencies to get to a president who would give them everything they want in return for nothing. And they got the jackpot, a genuinely ideological left-wing president who gave away the store. And just to show their contempt for the promises or the pretenses of this administration actually is trying to encourage democracy or thinks this will encourage democracy, what we saw today was the crackdown on human rights activists and their arrests in Cuba today and yesterday.

HENRY: Steve, your winner was pretty dark. So who is your loser?

HAYES: My loser is also pretty bad, pretty tough. My loser is President Obama.

I think he had the worst year by far of any American politician, certainly a bad year relative to other world leaders. Barack Obama ran for president in 2008 saying he was going to be a transformative leader. He was going to make liberalism safe for the masses. He was going to make liberalism popular in the way that Ronald Reagan made conservatism popular. You look back at this past year and what we have seen is the collapse of big government. And the 2014 elections, obviously, were a specific repudiation, an ideological election, specific repudiation of the president and his policies and big government liberalism. I think he is the big loser.

HENRY: You are not buying the idea that he was liberated by the midterms?

HAYES: He may have been liberated but his philosophy, I think, is in ruins.

HENRY: A.B., loser?

STODDARD: Well, Michael Grimm, a congressman who just resigned, a Republican, is being paired a lot with Steve Scalise, the House Republican whip, as troublemakers at the end of the year. I think it's very different story. Steve Scalise went to the wrong meeting. Michael Grimm pleaded guilty to a felony last week and also is famous on Capitol Hill for threatening to throw a reporter off of a balcony and break him in half. But the interesting thing about Scalise, in the age when there wasn't Google he was many ambitious. He admitted he went to every meeting he could and he showed up everywhere to speak to constituents.

And Eric Cantor, the majority leader of the House Republican Conference, had a spectacular fall this year, ignoring his home district, the seventh of Virginia and setting his sights on everyone believes once one day being a speaker and replacing John Boehner, and in doing so his ambition and lack of caution took him out. And so it's an interesting tie between the three of them.

HENRY: Charles, your loser?

KRAUTHAMMER: Losers. It was a tie. This was a dead heat. How you can choose between Harry Reid and Jonathan Gruber?

Reid not only lost the Senate, lost nine of his colleagues, but also will now go down in history as about the worst steward of the Senate, the institution of the Senate, of any majority leader anywhere. He essentially shut it down for a couple of years and then arbitrarily changed the rules in a way that had never been done before.

As for Jonathan Gruber, I mean, the man has become an adjective. "Gruberian," deliberate, arrogant, too clever by half, deceptiveness. "Gruberian," I hope it enters the National Spelling Bee.


HENRY: Let's say something good. What in your life this year animated you, made you happy to be an American?

KRAUTHAMMER: The fact that every day when I drive to my office I pass the zoo and I know that I'm within a few hundred yards of a baby panda who, incidentally, on Christmas week accidentally stepped on a live wire, ran up a tree, stayed there all night, and his mother waited at the bottom of the tree for him. He finally came down.


KRAUTHAMMER: Isn't that a wonderful Christmas story?

HENRY: You know what, Charles has a cute and cuddly side. And I feel like if we just pulled it out.

KRAUTHAMMER: It's the kinder, gentler Charles.

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