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Opinion: Best and worst awards for 2017

Now is the time to reopen my old reporter’s notebooks and see who among last year’s national newsmakers deserves sugar plums or a lump of coal for being naughty or nice.

Once again, it was a great year for coal, in my not-too-humble opinion. But keep in mind, my purpose is not to dictate my choices to you as much as it is to invite you to come up with choices of your own.

And now, the envelopes please ...

Biggest Winner

Let’s hear it for Doug Jones, Alabama’s first Democratic senator-elect in more than 20 years. Although Jones was helped notably by allegations of pedophilia against his Republican opponent, Roy Moore, his nail-biter of a victory in the deeply conservative state encouraged Democrats as much as Donald Trump’s presidential victory over Hillary Clinton had depressed them.

Coming a few weeks behind a “blue wave” of surprisingly large off-year Democratic victories in Virginia and New Jersey, Jones won with the help of a larger-than-usual turnout of women, especially black women, in a race that saw a larger turnout than usual among blacks and lower-than-usual among whites. No wonder Republicans criticize Democratic “identity politics” so much, even as they practice more conservative versions of their own.

Biggest Loser

That dishonor goes to scandalized movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. Accused of decades of sexual assault and harassment, Weinstein’s fall touched off a “reckoning,” a national tsunami of firings and suspensions that brought down prominent men in movies, politics and journalism who also were accused of sexual improprieties.

Is this what democracy looks like? A new debate is rising on the right and left as to whether a new gender McCarthyism is taking hold, finding accused men guilty before giving them a chance to prove their innocence. Stay tuned. Anyone who solves that divide and survives will be a strong contender in this category for next year’s honors.

Most Defining Political Moment

The Women’s March by hundreds of thousands of women in Washington and other cities a day after Trump’s inauguration raised the curtain on a new “resistance” against Trump, even as he solidified his hold over the Grand Old Party. Republicans ridiculed the lack of a clear agenda among the protesting anti-Trumpers. But this year’s Democratic successes in off-year elections give Republicans reason to be nervous about the 2018 midterms.

Turncoat of the Year

There are numerous candidates in this heavily contested category, but my award goes to Donna Brazile. The interim head of the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 presidential campaign upset her fellow party leaders with a book that revealed what her fellow Dems needed to hear: Cozy relations between the party and Hillary Clinton’s campaign had done great damage to both.

No, she did not charge collusion or a “rigged” election, as some right-wing critics alleged. But she did tell Democrats what they needed to hear, if they intend to win the White House in 2020. That took courage — and, I am sure, she sold more than a few books.

Most Charismatic

In accordance with the alternative universes created by our currently polarized politics, I am splitting this prize along party lines. The GOP winner, not surprisingly, is President Trump, whose charisma completely eluded me until I witnessed the electricity he generates in his rally crowds. As much as conservatives ridiculed President Barack Obama’s crowds for behaving as if their “messiah” had arrived, the Trumpers sound clearly thrilled to have found a political savior of their own.

Among the Democrats, clearly charisma-challenged after Obama’s departure, I find myself returning constantly to good ol’ Joe Biden, to whom the unofficial title “good ol” is attached so often that it sounds like part of his name. At 75, he still lights up crowds with his seemingly boundless energy. But Democrats need to focus on an area they have neglected: growing new talent for national races as Republicans have been doing in recent years.

Best Comeback

For this honor, you can’t beat the New England Patriots rebound from a 28-to-3 deficit in the second half against the Atlanta Falcons to a 34-28 victory in overtime — one of the biggest blown leads in Super Bowl history. That’s too bad for Atlanta, but symbolically, the Patriots offer hope to Democrats, beleaguered in their exile from power in Congress and the White House: You can come from behind and win, but first you’ve got to show up for the game.

— Clarence Page is a columnist with Tribune Content Agency LLC.

Comments

Bob Summers

Speak the truth and Clarence calls you a turncoat

Another classic symptom of the Liberal gene.

Ideology over facts.

3 weeks, 1 day ago

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Gary Stussie

It would be a Christmas miracle if one of these Pitt's stand-ins would highlighted one - just one - of this president’s achievements. If a Democrat president turned around an economy in nine months, created 1.5 million jobs, oversaw 15+ record highs in the stock market, signed over 50+ bills into law, and confirmed a record numbers of judges, the lefties would carve him into Mt. Rushmore.

Wonder when these gifted "journalists" are going to realize we didn’t elect Donald Trump to be nice. We elected him to get stuff done. And that's exactly what he's doing.

3 weeks ago

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Richard Neuschafer

What achievements? Trump has done nothing but screw up. But, that is way over your head to understand, Gary. You are gullible.

3 weeks ago

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Bob Summers

There are no observable achievements for the "you didn't build that" crowd.

How could they observe any?

It is genetically impossible for them to.

3 weeks ago

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Gary Stussie

To liberals, shaming and labeling their opponents is necessary, they believe their opponents to be less of a person than they are.”
― Chris Sardegna

3 weeks ago

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