The year 2011 was remarkable. The Arab Spring. The end of Bin Laden and Khadaffi. The Japanese quake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown. One weather calamity after another, here and abroad. The debt ceiling crisis. Occupy Wall Street. The crazy GOP run-up to the primaries. The end of our occupation of Iraq.
We all have our specific memories. In no particular order, here are some of mine.
- Peter Falk died. It's well to remember an actor like Falk, who spread delight for decades in a wounded world. If the going gets rough in 2012, watch "The In-Laws", one of the funniest movies ever made. We'll miss you, Mr. Falk. "Oh, there's just one other thing..."
- 9-9-9 and Cain's bizarre ad with his smoking campaign manager and Cain's weird leer. (Actually, I wish this memory would go away!)
- The brave Japanese workers who kept going back into those hideously dangerous nuclear plants.
- The death of Vaclav Havel. Truly a man for all seasons, the poet and freedom fighter who proved that the pen is indeed mightier than the sword.
- Michele Bachman's husband dancing with her on a campaign stage. And badly too.
- Obama's great comic performance at the White House Correspondents Dinner while, unknown to us, he was waiting word on the outcome of the raid on Bin Laden.
- The voter who told a pollster that Newt Gingrich has "too much luggage".
- Christine "I am not a witch" O'Donnell endorsing Mitt Romney because "he's been consistent since he changed his mind."
- The Tea Party Congressman who vowed he would not only vote against raising the debt ceiling but would vote "to lower it". (Which is the equivalent of telling your bank that you've decided you owe it less than you do.)
- Mitt Romney constantly saying, "Ha. Ha. Ha." The man doesn't laugh. He SAYS, "Ha. Ha. Ha." Heaven help us, not eight years of THAT!
- John Boehner repeatedly being the man who couldn't deliver on deals he had made (which is a fatal flaw in politics).
- Donald Trump's stony face at the White House Correspondents Dinner while Obama shredded him. Also Donald Trump's hair and his weird little mouth. (I wish I could forget Donald Trump entirely.)
- How handsome and beautiful the Russians were who were photographed at the anti-Putin protests. They looked straight out of "Dr. Zhivago". Love those Russian hats! (Maybe Donald Trump should get one to cover whatever it is that is dead and lying on his head.)
- The thugs on camels attacking the Egyptian protesters, and then the joy of the Arab protesters when they triumphed in country after country.
- The OWS people occupying the "Law and Order" set that was a mock-up of the real thing and asking the TV folks, "What are your demands?"
- Jon Stewart bemoaning the end of Herman Cain but then delighting in the prospect of a debate moderated by Donald Trump. Stewart is the master! (Will Trump EVER go away?!)
- George Will on a Sunday morning talk show, apoplectic about the GOP candidates: "Charlatan entrepreneurs!"
- The last U.S. Army truck leaving Iraq.
- President Obama's smile.
Let's be sure he's still smiling at this time next year. Then we can all smile.
So here's a toast to the people of laughter and courage: Obama, Havel, Jon Stewart, Peter Falk, those Japanese and Arabs and Russians and Occupiers, and our brave men and women now back from Iraq and the ones who never came home. And let us not forget the photographers and journalists who brought us the story of 2011 and especially those who died doing it.
"Ah, brave new world that has such people in it."
Happy New Year! Let's make it a good one!