2011 National Year In Review: Domestic Partisan Battles Ramp Up As Iraq War Winds Down
The year in national politics proved running for the Republican nomination for president can feel more like riding a rollercoaster, and the political year was so steeped in partisanship that there were few breaks from the rhetorical battle. NY1's Michael Herzenberg filed the following report.
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In 2011, the United States had a triumph in its fight against terrorism. Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, almost 10 years after his attacks on America.
"Justice has been done," President Barack Obama said during the announcement on May 1. "Let us think back to the sense of unity that prevailed on 9/11."
That sense of unity also surfaced as the year began with a tragedy. A deranged gunman shot Arizona Representative Gabriel Giffords in the head and murdered six others in January.
Seven months later, Giffords returned to the U.S. Capitol to vote for a compromise to raise the nation’s debt ceiling.
But Standard & Poor's called the deal too little and political institutions too weak, and the agency downgraded the U.S. credit rating for the first time.
Economic fears continued to fuel hyper-partisan politics in Washington, D.C., with Tea Party Republicans on the right and Occupy Wall Street demonstrators on the left.
The protest in the city sparked demonstrations and dialogue across the country about the growing disparity of wealth. Occupy Wall Street says it represents the 99 percent.
The epitome of the 1 percent, real estate mogul Donald Trump, squawked about running for president, but it turned out to be just talk.
The field of Republican presidential wannabes suffered not at all. Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann had her time on top until Rick Perry stepped in, but the Texas governor seemed to bury himself in a debate blunder.
Businessman Herman Cain gained momentum but bowed out after accusations he sexually harassed women.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich then surged in the polls until his competitors focused on money he made consulting for now government-owned mortgage backers.
Up came another candidate, Texas Congressman Ron Paul.
Through it all, Mitt Romney remained perhaps unloved, but untoppled from the top of the field, just days away from the first contest.
The end of the year brought the end of the U.S. war in Iraq, but more than 90,000 U.S. military service members remain in Afghanistan.