Opinion

WALLY'S WORLD: The past year brought big gains, major losses

By Wally DuChateau

With the start of 2010, tradition dictates that the press should review the ups and downs of the last decade – and who am I to question such a well-established custom? Here then, my capsule summary of the worst and the best of the last 10 years.

In politics, to begin with the worst, it becomes increasingly obvious that George W. was one of the worst presidents – if not, in fact, the absolute worst president – in U.S. history. And, at the same time, he was also one of our most entertaining, not because that was his intent. To illustrate both points, this famous, muddle-headed “Bushism” nicely sums up his tenure in office:

“I know what I believe, I will continue to articulate what I believe, and what I believe, I believe what I believe because I believe what I believe. And when you know what you believe it makes it easy to answer questions. I can’t answer your question.”

We elected a black man president. What a wonderful turn of events! Unfortunately, he inherited an economy that was down the toilet and two wars. His solutions have increased the national debt (now around 3 zillion bucks) to the point that our great-, great-, great-, great-grandkids will still be paying it off – and even Hong Kong banks have started to question the wisdom of loaning us anything more. Perhaps it’s time Obama invited the Chinese premier to the rose garden for a beer.

And speaking of politics, what kind of lamebrained Southern governor would tell his wife and several state senators that he’s going for a hike on the Appalachian Trail and, instead, fly to Argentina to have a fling with his girlfriend? Gov. Mark Sanford, that’s who. Really Governor, my 7-year-old neighbor kid could come up with a better deceptive scheme than that.

A 20-year-old country bumpkin, Taylor Swift, beat out Michael Jackson for American Music Awards’ Artist of the Year. This pleased me. I never cared that much for Jackson. He was just another mediocre singer with a certain flair for dance, who happened to have a brilliant sense of stage design, special effects and physical image and posturing. His music and lyrics didn’t amount to much. “If you can’t afford a baby, don’t have one.” Really now, that may be an important message, but it seems rather obvious. Is this what rock has finally come to?

In the past decade, Hispanics have made quite an impact on our culture. Sonia Sotomayor was appointed to the Supreme Court. Half the musicians and singers on the Billboard Top 40 are Latinos, from jazz groups to hip hop. George Lopez is simply everywhere. So is Penelope Cruz. (Of course, I’m not yet tired of looking at her, and probably won’t be for some time.)

On the other hand, I’ve seen all of Paris Hilton’s physical attributes I care to see, unless she decides to make a regular, commercial porn flick. But I wouldn’t encourage her to do that because I don’t think she’d be very good at it.

In the movies, vampires were breaking box-office records faster than Lindsay Lohan goes through rehab. (Apparently, little girls feel the essence of romance is the ability to gaze into someone’s eyes for more than five seconds.) Transformer movies are also box-office gold. I haven’t seen any of them, but I think I’d rather play with Legos. The biggest money-making film of the decade was some little, independently shot-in the-barn effort called “Paranormal Activity.” It only cost $15,000 to make and it earned more that $100 million. I didn’t see that one either.

But I’ll tell you what I did see. A masterpiece called “Chicago,” which is my choice for best film of the decade.

We’ve lost many famous celebrities in the last decade, including but certainly not limited to: Bob Hope, Katharine Hepburn, Paul Newman, Richard Pryor, Norman Mailer, Luciano Pavarotti, Johnny Carson, Farrah Fawcett, Walter Cronkite, Ted Kennedy, and the high patron saint of Enumclaw taverns, Howie Larson.

So it goes.

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