“All the news that’s fit to print.” New York Times Masthead.
Time magazine named Ben Bernanke as its Newsmaker of 2009 ostensibly for his role in “rescuing the American economy,” but in reality simply urging people to spend their way out of debt to “stimulate” the country into overall prosperity again. Any sane person would spend less and toss out some of the plastic but in America, things seem to be different.
Since most people are saying “Ben who?” let’s examine some real newsmakers of the year. The Canadian guy has to be Prime Minister Harper. He managed to keep his caucus in control, staved off several coup attempts by the inept Liberals, loony NDPers and the out to lunch Bloc Quebecois. Even with the personality of a toad, a lacklustre Cabinet and yawning indifference by the electorate, he’s managed to keep his minority government alive for longer than anyone else.
How? Naturally, it helps to be seen as less incompetent than the other poseurs vying for the title of PM, but the real reason is his performance on piano and vocals with superstar cellist Yo-Yo Ma at the National Arts Centre back in October when he performed “With A Little Help From My Friends” to an astonished and impressed black-tie crowd. As Scott Feschuk remarked in Maclean’s magazine: “That was great. It’s going to take me a few days to remember why I hate the guy.”
Internationally, while the Taliban, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Angela Merkel predictably kept to their behaviour patterns, the big story had to be the “Debacle in Dubai.” From a sleepy fishing village to a mega construction site back to Dullsville with empty skyscrapers in the space of 10 years, it’s akin to Las Vegas turning into a ghost town overnight. It’s a classic example of “the bigger they are, the harder they fall” cliché from boxing, which incidentally is going the way of the dodo with the advent of the UFC fight phenomenon.
The big news action happened in the U.S. President Obama got a dog and the Nobel Prize nomination almost simultaneously in the beginning of the year while his popularity ratings tanked towards the end of ‘09. It looks like he’s dyeing his grey hairs again too—a sure sign of descent.
Not to be outdone, Michael Jackson, as was his wont, usurped all other news coverage by bizarrely dying while using general anesthetic drugs to get a simple night’s sleep. As his music became more banal over the years, his weirdness always took over front page stories around the world. We will miss his talent for the macabre. Say it ain’t so, Mike!
My vote for story and newsmaker of the year has to be Tiger Woods. Even people who don’t follow sports are taken with Tiger’s fall from grace. At the rate he was going, it would have been difficult to find a bimbo he hadn’t slept with. Of course, getting clobbered with a three-iron by an irate wife at three in the morning would make any man run into his cave, but the way he has not handled this and the absence from his own charity tournament indicates a real downfall. He should come to Sun Peaks for a few weeks, learn to ski with the locals, drink cheap beer and get to know what life is without celebrity. His marriage is over. He better hope he can still golf.