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Best of 2001: Winners and Losers

By Jackson Murphy
web posted January 7, 2002

Two-thousand and one was shaping up to be pretty quiet until September 11th. It is that date which shapes most of what we'll remember about the year. Even with everything being dominated by that day and the war since, there were good and bad things, winners and losers, and angels and deadbeats.

Winner: Patriotism
The events of 9/11 have revived many things in the world but none more powerful than the return of patriotism. When every baseball game replaced "Take me out to the ballgame" with "God Bless America" suddenly loving one's country was cool again.

Winner: International Relations
Last year the world got a big lesson, thanks to the 2000 election cliffhanger, on civics. This year we have had a crash course in the geopolitics of nations, religion, and areas we never really cared about before. The 2004 US election may be the first election in some time in which international relations is the top issue. It's not just the economy, stupid-and that is another Clinton myth that is over and done with.

Loser: Bill Clinton
The biggest loser of the year has to be the 42nd President of the United States. The man who spent eight years searching for his legacy found that the attacks of 9/11 erased any real sense of gain from the prosperous 1990's. And don't forget the pardon of Mark Rich. The 1993 WTC, the 1998 embassy bombings, the 2000 USS Cole bombing went virtually unpunished. In the words of President Bush, all the Clinton's did was lob some million-dollar missiles at some empty tents and a few camels. Touché.

Winner: The US War Machine
There wasn't any doubt before, but the war so far, with unmanned planes dropping "Hell Fire" missiles on targets, and the sheer power of Air Power has repudiated once and for all the problems with Air bombing-as in, there isn't one.

SegwayLoser: New age scooter
The Segway personal transport device is obviously stupid. Is this the answer to all our traffic problems? Hardly, more likely it will be the next tickle me Elmo craze.

Entertainment & Sports:
Winners: The World Series
The 2001 World Series was by far the most entertaining sporting event in years. Drama, quality, and heartache it may save baseball yet. And Bush's first pitch in the Kevlar was awesome.

Losers: Survivor; XFL
The first two Survivors were very entertaining, but as soon as the terrorist attacks would anyone care about reality television anymore? The medium may not be dead, but these people were mildly annoying before, and are now just ignorant-who cares about some bratty losers playing this game.

On the other hand it still stands out above such terrible entertainment such as the Extreme Football league (XFL). Wrestling tried to take on the football industry-it lost. The "wrestlization" of football was DOA and seems even less desirable and frivolous now.

Winners: Rudy Guiliani, George W. Bush, and Donald Rumsfeld

These three guys are what is meant by 'government by grown ups'. Rudy has become mayor of America, and gave the world reassurance, grace under pressure, and proved something that Clinton could not. That if you are a great leader, people will ignore your private life, but if you are just a pig, then you are just a pig. George W. Bush became the perfect president for a time of war and the world found out why he was not just his dad's son. And finally Donald Rumsfled became the most respected and according to some, sexiest, cabinet official in years for give straight talk. He is the king of No Spin-Bill O'Reilly would have to agree.

Firefighters at the remains of the World Trade CentreFire Fighters
The brave men who ran up the Twin Towers to help save lives have reemerged as the real heroes in society.

Gary Condit
Prior to 9/11 the cable news spent every waking hour trying to figure out what Condit's part in the Chandra Levy disappearance. Looking back it seems slightly out of place that we could be so absorbed something like this-it may mark the end of these media frenzies and the return to quality international reporting although that is probably too much to ask.

Al Gore & his beard
The man who would be king returned to the US sporting a silly beard. Speculation on whether or not he had joined the Taleban was the running joke beginning in October. The question on everyone's mind was what would he have done had he won the presidency? We'd rather not.

Anne Heche
The breaking news that actress Anne Heche was actually possessed by an alien being named 'celestia' was a grim reminder of what is wrong with many of the freaks in Hollywood. Hey, Anne, you're a talentless bimbo and your 15 minutes is up. But perhaps this is the answer to another post 9/11 question: why do 'they' hate us?

John Walker
Who could have thought that anyone would replace Timothy McViegh as the most hated person in America? And he may end up being the most famous traitor since Benedict Arnold.

Loser: Enron
On the one hand, Enron's fall from grace (read: daisy cutter) is going to send shock waves throughout the investing world. One minute: Fortune 500 company, and riding high. Next minute: pathetic penny stock filing for bankrupsy. Ouch.

Winner: Free Markets
On the other hand, Enron's meltdown is an example of how vibrant the system is. How? If a company so large can be let to fall on its face and the system, the market, and investors carry on then we must be freer than we sometimes realize.

In the end 2001 will mark a watershed in politics and in history. It is equal parts Pearl Harbor, World War Two, Kennedy Assassination, and Cold War. But even with a big showing of losers, 2001 made 2000's ups and downs look like a warm up. 2002 is looking good: war, elections, and economic recovery. Stay tuned.

Jackson Murphy is a commentator from Vancouver, Canada. He is the editor of "Dispatches" a website that serves up political commentary 24-7. You can contact him at

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