The Top 10 Politics Stories of 2011

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Atlantic writers survey the biggest stories on their beats See full coverage

The only thing predictable about the political landscape in 2011 was the size of the stories. It was a year of intense emotions and bitter feuds. Congress stalemated over and over on routine budgetary matters, creating a crisis environment. Occupy Wall Street launched, camping in parks around the country and facing pepper spray and batons in chaotic street protests that raised serious questions about the militarization of post-9/11 police forces. Anthony Weiner resigned after a sexting scandal. David Wu stepped down, too, and Herman Cain improbably became a presidential primary front-runner before withdrawing in the face of adultery charges. America finally got Osama bin Laden, killing him in a daring raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan. But Obama's support continued to decline. And while the year got off to a bad start when Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords was shot point-blank in the head on Jan. 8 at a Tucson Safeway, her courage in the face of injury and astonishing partial recovery provided an inspiring, bittersweet coda to the year when she sat for a television interview in November. A look back at the year that was:

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Garance Franke-Ruta is a former senior editor covering national politics at The Atlantic.

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