I heard somewhere that President Obama gave himself a B or maybe it was a B- for his first year. Despite everything that we wished he would do but didn’t and that we wished would happen but hasn’t yet, I think that ends up about right. While President Obama was grappling with where to even begin to try to change things, it at least appeared that he and the family were having some fun and doing some normal family stuff. It is so much better to see the President and First Lady doing Halloween or doing a date night or getting ready to attend an event at their kids school than to see W. cutting brush or riding his bike.
So we should also have some fun looking back at the year. Last Sunday the Washington Post ran a long recap of the year by Dave Barry.
It was a year of Hope — at first in the sense
of “I feel hopeful!” and later in the sense of “I hope this year ends soon!”
It was also a year of Change, especially in Washington, where the tired old hacks of yesteryear finally yielded the reins of power to a group of fresh, young, idealistic, new-idea outsiders such as Nancy Pelosi. As a result, Washington, rejecting “business as usual,” finally stopped trying to solve every problem by throwing billions of taxpayer dollars at it, and instead started trying to solve every problem by throwing trillions of taxpayer dollars at it.
To be sure, it was a year that saw plenty of bad news. But in almost every instance, there was offsetting good news:
Bad news: The economy remained critically weak, with rising unemployment, a severely depressed real-estate market, the near-collapse of the domestic automobile industry and the steep decline of the dollar.
Good news: Windows 7 sucked less than Vista.
Bad news: The downward spiral of the newspaper industry continued, resulting in the firings of thousands of experienced reporters and an apparently permanent deterioration in the quality of American journalism.
Good news: A lot more people were tweeting.
Bad news: Ominous problems loomed abroad as — among other difficulties — the Afghanistan war went sour, and Iran threatened to plunge the Middle East and beyond into nuclear war.
Good news: They finally got Roman Polanski.
In short, it was a year that we will be happy to put behind us.
The year began with the inauguration
… during which history is made in Washington, where a crowd estimated by the Congressional Estimating Office at 217 billion people gathers to watch Barack Obama be inaugurated as the first American president ever to come after George W. Bush. There is a minor glitch in the ceremony when Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., attempting to administer the oath of office, becomes confused and instead reads the side-effect warnings for his decongestant pills, causing the new president to swear that he will consult his physician if he experiences a sudden loss of sensation in his feet. President Obama then delivers an upbeat inaugural address, ushering in a new era of cooperation, civility and bipartisanship in a galaxy far, far away. Here on Earth, everything stays pretty much the same.
And so it goes, month by month. Here is a sample from from June
In political news, the Minnesota Supreme Court, clearly exhausted by months of legal wrangling, declares Al Franken the winner of “American Idol.” Meanwhile, the governor of South Carolina, Mark Sanford, goes missing for six days; his spokesperson tells the media that the governor is “hiking the Appalachian Trail,” which turns out to be a slang term meaning “engaging in acts of an explicitly non-gubernatorial nature with a woman in Argentina.” The state legislature ultimately considers impeaching Sanford but changes its mind upon discovering that the lieutenant governor, who got into office through some slick legal maneuvering when nobody was paying attention, is Eliot Spitzer.
California, in a move apparently intended to evade creditors, has its name legally changed to South Oregon.
In an alarming technological development, hackers shut down Twitter, leaving a desperate and suddenly vulnerable America with no way to find out what the Kardashian sisters are having for lunch. The Federal Emergency Management Agency urges the nation to “remain calm” and “use Facebook if you can.” Twitter service is eventually restored, but most of the estimated 875 million thoughts that went untweeted during the outage will never be recovered, making it the nation’s worst social-networking disaster ever.
Don’t forget September
… Obama, speaking on health care before a joint session of Congress, is rudely interrupted by Kanye West, who grabs the microphone and declares that Beyoncé has a better health-care plan. No, wait, sorry: The president is rudely interrupted by Republican congressman Joe Wilson, who shouts, “You lie!” Wilson later apologizes for his breach of congressional etiquette, saying, “I should have just mooned him.”
And in sports
In sports, the New York Yankees, after an eight-year drought, purchase the World Series. But the month’s big sports story involves Tiger Woods, who, plagued by tabloid reports that he has been hiking the Appalachian Trail with a nightclub hostess, is injured in a bizarre late-night incident near his Florida home when his SUV is attacked by golf-club-wielding Somali pirates.
Dave, I still miss reading you every Sunday in the Globe. You claim to have made up most of the column, but maybe it would have been more fun if it all really happened this way.