Edward Snowden was the pick for biggest individual impact in our 2013 awards. PHOTO: Reuters
2013, we barely knew ya. Between sips of holiday reverie, let’s take a moment to remember the year that was and hand out some awards.
Largest Individual Impact: Edward Snowden
This award goes to the person who had the largest impact in relation to the circumstances they found themselves in. Pope Francis was considered by our elite panel, but he at least had a number of issues brought to him. Before long, someone was going to ask the Pope about his views on gay rights, the child molestation scandals and other issues. Pope Francis has surprised again and again with his answers, but they were to questions that someone asked. Snowden, on the other hand, was a pure individual effort. We have already heard major revelations about the NSA watching you reading this blog post, but there is apparently A LOT more to come. Perhaps enough for 2013’s Time Magazine Person of the Year runner-up to win next year.
Runner-ups: Pope Francis, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi (who merely led a military coup in Egypt), Bashar al-Assad
Biggest Opportunist: Abdel Fattah el-Sisi
Egypt was not satisfied with its first democratically elected president, Mohammed Morsi, who rose to power in the wake of the uprising following the Arab Spring. With demonstrations blazing across the country, el-Sisi gave an ultimatum to Morsi and then followed it up two days later with a military coup. El-Sisi was claiming he had the will of the people behind him, but what he did was profoundly undemocratic. He is now the Deputy Prime Minister of Egypt with the installed Adly Mansour as acting president. The new regime has promised to hold new elections any year now.
Runner-up: Ted Cruz
Largest Combination Of Pointless & Consequential: The Government Shutdown
Lots of pointless headlines in 2013 (hi Miley), but what story had the unique combination of pointlessness and actually mattering? Of course: the government shutdown. The 16 day shutdown did real damage to our economy and caused real suffering among those who rely on government services, but it didn’t accomplish anything.
Movie You Didn’t See But Should Have: Blue Jasmine
Woody Allen’s latest effort combines A Street Car Named Desire with the Bernie Madoff Scandal. It’s crisply written with distinct but not unrealistic characters. We get great scenery from New York and the Bay Area, and Cate Blanchett delivers a truly next level performance (Sandra Bullock will probably win the Oscar for Gravity, but Blanchett should). Also, Andrew Dice Clay emerges out of the ether in one of the more genius casting moves in memory.
Runner-up: Pacific Rim, which was legitimately satisfying sci-fi campiness
Biggest Fail: The Obamacare Rollout
With a tidal wave of support, Democrats could keep the Senate and take back the House in 2014. The government shutdown was a major gift to the Democrats chances, the sort of gift they needed to have a shot at the House (which is heavily gerrymandered in favor of Republicans). Democrats fumbled that all away because they couldn’t make a website work. Obamacare will one day be a big help to the Democrats, but that day got pushed back to 2016 at the earliest due to the problems with healthcare.gov.
Runner-ups: the government shutdown, the Reza Aslan interview
Biggest Under-the-Radar Story: The Trans Pacific Partnership
We’re still learning about the TPP, which is a NAFTA style trade deal between the U.S., Australia, Chile, Singapore, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Vietnam and several other nations. The TPP will be great for major U.S. corporations, and it’s not clear who else. For example, the TPP raises the bar for generic drugs to enter the U.S. market, because apparently our pharma giants aren’t profitable enough.
Runner-up: Republican voter suppression efforts
Most Impressive Sports Victory: The Boston Red Sox
A year ago the Red Sox were a mess. Their big spending had left them holding a bunch of over-priced duds, and they finished last in baseball’s toughest division. The offseason saw the Blue Jays load up on talent, and no other team get much worse. The Red Sox, once again becoming a higher-priced version of the Oakland A’s, snapped up a bunch of better than average players like Shane Victorino and Mike Napoli. Luck and the L.A. Dodgers (who relieved the Red Sox of all their dead weight) helped too, but regardless, it’s an impressive worst to first story.
Runner-up: the Chicago Blackhawks
Most Important Non-Sequitur: John Kerry on Syria
With the U.S. all but announcing a date and time for when they would strike Syria in response to the horrific chemical weapon attack against the Syrian rebels, John Kerry volunteered the conditions under which the U.S. would not attack the Assad regime in an attempt to explain how unlikely it would be for Syria to meet the U.S.’s conditions:
“Sure, [Assad] could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week — turn it over, all of it, without delay and allow the full and total accounting.”
To which Syria said: “it’s a deal.”
Does it still count as smart power if you do it by mistake? Either way, it turned into a creative solution out of an incredibly thorny problem.
Best Thing that the Fox Said: Frakka-frakka-frakka-kow
You can argue with me on the rest of them, but I’m just right about this.