If ever there was an excuse to avoid getting back to hard core politics, writing a list is a lazy way to do it.
Like an athlete playing one play to keep a consecutive games streak alive, I post once a day.
These events are not the best or the worst, but the most significant.
The problem with a year ending in a “9” is that the year itself gets shafted by coverage of the entire decade.
Besides, in this case the entire decade is also the entire century, making it double special.
We got spoiled because the last decade was the millennium, and how often does that occur?
(That was rhetorical. Put away the calculators. It happens rarely.)
I will not be making predictions for 2010 and beyond, because I reserve my predictions for football, which are always wrong anyway.
Tomorrow will be my First State of the Blog Address. My speechwriters are feverishly preparing.
(Actually I will be winging it while searching for which New Year’s Eve party will have the hottest Hebrew Tang.)
Ok, here is the list of the most significant moments of the decade. For those who disagree, submit your own events.
10) Social Networking–The 1990s brought us the Internet. This decade really took it to the next level in 2007 with MySpace. In 2008 Facebook became very popular. By 2009, a ton of people were on Twitter.
While many people including myself find social networking sites to be irritating, they do have their positive used. Like most people, I want to cringe when I see people telling me what they are doing every moment of their life in a desperate attempt to appear less boring than they really are. We truly have become the nation of Narcissista.
Yet these sites also bring some positives. Iranian young people fighting for their freedom are standing up to the Mullahs and trying to get their messages out as quickly as possible. People are making friends all across the world, and reconnecting with old friends. These sites also have business purposes. It has been a boon to commerce. Social networking will be with us forever, and we have yet to scratch the technological surface.
9) The 2000 Election–George W. Bush became President only after a hotly contested race against Al Gore. A movie writer could not have written this script. Al Gore finished ahead in the popular vote, although if every vote were counted that number would flip several times. President Bush was ahead in every recount. The Florida Supreme Court ruled one way and the U.S. Supreme Court reversed them. Gore considered defying the Supreme Court and risking a constitutional crisis by arguing that the Florida legislature had the final say.
Gore was talked out of this, and the ticket that had the first Jewish vice presidential candidate in Joseph Lieberman finally surrendered. The left, bitter over losing, waged an all out war to destroy George W. Bush. Yet 8 months into his presidency, events occurred that would render the election itself to the back burner.
8) A GOP female Vice President–In 1984 Geraldine Ferraro was the first female vice presidential candidate. The Democrats got shellacked, which made bold choices take a back seat. A quarter of a century later in 2008, John McCain introduced the world to Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, who electrified the crowd. She would have ranked higher except they lost the election due to events higher up on this list.
Sarah Palin immediately became a polarizing figure, as conservatives loved her and liberals tried to rip her to shreds in ways that made the George W. Bush presidency seem a love fest. She is now on a book and speaking tour, and she might be the most sought after speaker in the country. No matter where she goes from here, she will always be the first Republican female vice presidential candidate. That matters.
7) A black opposition leader–While many were rightly celebrating a black President, the leader of of the opposition is also black. In 2009 Michael Steele went from being the former Lieutenant Governor of Maryland to being the head of the Republican National Committee. A black man headed the RNC for the first time. This would rank higher except the number of votes required to win were few, and the influence of political parties has been waning over the years. Some would argue they barely matter. Nevertheless, this is a milestone.
6) Hurricane Katrina–In 2005 an entire city was devastated by a natural disaster. Thousands of people were displaced from their homes. The city was cut off from civilization. Frustration boiled over at federal, state, and local officials.The levees broke, but many felt the system was broken as well.
One of many times when sports helped heal people, the town turned to the New Orleans Saints. A year after the tragedy of Katrina, the Superdome reopened. The greatest blocked punt in history was blocked by Steve Gleason and fallen on for a touchdown by DeLoach.
5) The blogosphere–Online diaries had been taking place since the late 1990s, but some people started blogging after the towers went down and others reacted in both directions. In 2004 the modern blogosphere really came of age. Citizen journalists have been responsible for breaking big stories. Matt Drudge broke the Lewinsky story in 1998, but by 2004 it was Hugh Hewitt that became the most notable. Today Andrew Breitbart is still breaking news regarding ACORN.
The downside of the blogosphere is that information is often inaccurate, unverified, and vicious, often anonymously vicious. Yet the upside is that traditional media are forced to get their own stories right. Dan Rather and the New York Times have wilted under pressure from fact checkers.
Not all blogs are political. One of the most popular blogs of all time is “I Can Haz Cheeseburger,” which is simply pictures of kittens wearing sweaters and playing with yarn. It may seem silly, but advertisers pay big bucks to top bloggers. My blog led to a book and public speaking career.
4) Capturing Saddam Hussein–The Iraq War split America, as many people wanted to allow sanctions to contain Saddam. Others like myself believed that he was a threat to the world, and that a corrupt U.N. mired in the oil for food scandal would not allow sanctions to be followed. Some still insist that the war was about WMD. It was not. It was regime change. In 2004 Saddam was found in a spider hole. In a true test of a fledgling democracy, Saddam was tried, convicted, and given the death penalty with more humanity than the millions of people his regime murdered. The world is better off with him gone.
3) The Financial Crisis–The United States in 2008 came dangerously close to a complete financial breakdown. Two months before a presidential election, Lehman Brothers burned. Debates took place over whether certain companies were too big to fail. Ben Bernanke and Hank Paulson took controversial and decisive steps to prevent the entire global economy from collapsing. Politicians talked boldly, but the truth is that nobody had seen anything like this in terms of complexity and ferocity. The American Way of Life still hangs in the balance.
2) A black President–No matter where anybody is on the political spectrum, the election of Barack Obama is one aspect of what makes America who we are. While many people voted for him because of his race, and fewer voted against him because of it, the economy was the main issue in the 2008 election, proving that most Americans really found his race to be irrelevant. That is what Dr. King meant by a colorblind society. While his election was a source of pride for many minorities, in the long run he will be judged by his job performance, as every President should be.
1) 9/11–Although Islamofascistic terrorism began in 1972, and continued unabated for almost 30 years, most people outside of Israel could not have imagined the horrors of September 11th, 2001. This event defined a generation, not just a decade. In the way people now discuss where they were on Pearl Harbor Day or when JFK was shot, everybody remembers where they were on that Tuesday morning at 8:46am.
The images are indelible. President George W. Bush picking up the bullhorn and hugging a firefighter on 9/14. His speech to the nation on 9/20. New York City Rudy Giuliani became America’s Mayor.The picture of the three firefighters became as symbolic as the original photo of the men planting the flag at Iwo Jima.
Everything in the following days was magnified. ESPN Announcer Chris Berman brought painful images as the New York Football Giants played Kansas City. David Letterman interviewed Dan Rather as both fought back tears.
Lee Greenwood sang “God Bless the USA” as total stranger hugged. While 9/11 was the face of pure evil, Americans were united in those days. The halcyon days of the 1990s were gone. America was a nation at war, and it was going to be a long, hard slog.
I have no idea what the next decade will bring, but I do know that I was a young man about to turn 28 when the decade began. A few days into 2010, I turn 38. The differences seem exponential.
Whatever 2010 will bring, it will be here in less than 48 hours.
Like many of you, I pray for peace, love and health for myself, and wish that for all of you.