2011: You can't win for losing
This year, victories have been quickly revealed as failures

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Occupy protesters sit on the top of a truck as they march at the Port of Oakland on Dec. 12, 2011 in Oakland, Calif. Following a general strike coordinated by Occupy Oakland that closed the Port of Oakland on Nov. 2, Occupy Wall Street protesters are attempting to shut down all West Coast ports in Los Angeles, San Diego, Oakland, Portland, Seattle and Tacoma.

Article Highlights

  • 2011 was all about pretending to be winning while really losing @JonahNRO

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  • OWS protesters think they're fighting imperialism while they throw a tantrum about having to pay their debts

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  • Obama's bogus "recovery summer" allows him to claim every job he hasn't destroyed is a "win"

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Charlie Sheen was clearly the man of the year.

You’ll recall that 2011 began with the oafish actor celebrating his own narcotic and sexual crapulence like a victorious gladiator working the crowds. He was egged on by a media with as much decency as the cons on the top tiers of the prison who chant “fresh fish” as the new inmates walk into general pop, their eyes stinging from delousing powder.

Sheen succeeded at turning his own debasement into a national pseudo-event by calling the very definition of losing “winning.”

And that’s what 2011 was all about: pretending to be winning while really losing. Sheen’s Hollywood compatriots played the same game. Kim Kardashian, fresh from the “success” of her sex tape, parlayed her celebrity into a “classy” wedding that netted her millions and 72 days of marital bliss. Poor Lindsay Lohan, meanwhile, merely found victories in reduced jail time and a million-dollar Playboy spread.

"This bogus locution allows Obama to claim every job he doesn’t destroy as a win."--Jonah Goldberg 

Speaking of jail time, former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich started the year by trying to translate his crimes into a lucrative career as a reality-show star and ended it with a prison sentence.

In January, a deranged madman killed a bunch of people in Arizona and horribly wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. It was a true tragedy, disgustingly exploited by liberals who saw it as the perfect opportunity to demonize political opponents. Against the weight of logic, facts, and decency, allegedly serious people claimed that a map on Sarah Palin’s Facebook page inspired the shooter.

The Tucson tragedy also let Barack Obama deliver perhaps the best speech of his presidency — on the need to tone down the extreme rhetoric on both sides. Alas, when liberals lecture “both sides,” they mean, “Everyone who disagrees with me should shut up.”

By summer, Democratic operatives and liberal New York Times columnists alike (a subtle distinction, I know) were decrying Republicans as “hostage takers” (Obama) and “terrorists” (Joe Biden) and the Tea Party as “the Hezbollah faction” of the GOP (NYT columnist Tom Friedman) with nary a peep of protest from the champions of civility.

Speaking of protest, consider the Occupy Wall Street movement. Not since the Hebrews killed themselves at Masada has there been a group that more obviously won by losing. Of course, the Jews at Masada were freedom fighters battling Roman imperialism. The Occupy Wall Streeters think they’re fighting imperialism when they throw a tantrum about having to pay their debts.

The Occupy movement’s meager tangible accomplishments (We recycled our own urine!) are inversely correlated with their lavish press coverage. The protesters were named Time magazine’s person of the year. Though in fairness, Time diluted its sycophancy by including the Arab Spring protesters who’ve (so far) ushered in a glorious new era of Islamism in places such as Egypt. Winning!

(Though perhaps not as clear cut a “win” as President Obama’s decision to declare political victory and pull our troops out of Iraq prematurely, so we can lose a war we sacrificed so much to win.)

Back home, tea-party politicians who truly won historic midterm-election victories are cast as dangerous losers. The Occupiers lost their bongs and yurts to bulldozers in cities across America, but museums around the country are nonetheless desperate to acquire authentic Occupy-movement artifacts to commemorate their glorious but unspecified successes. Unfortunately, the tea parties cannot work the refs of history this way, because they clean up their mess after they get together.

No word if the Smithsonian collected some genuine Occupier scat to be preserved next to the alleged specimens from the Yeti and Sasquatch. Lord knows they left enough behind for others to scoop.

And so it goes. The economy continued to languish while the president declared victory over a Depression that never was and touted himself as the most legislatively successful president ever — with the “possible exceptions” of FDR, LBJ, and Lincoln.

Meanwhile, we are approaching the third year of the long winter Obama once celebrated as a “recovery summer.” Its chief selling points are an unemployment rate statistically lowered by more Americans giving up hope of finding a job, and the claim that millions of jobs have been “created or saved.” This bogus locution allows Obama to claim every job he doesn’t destroy as a win. 

And let us not forget the Republicans, whose feckless squad of A-Team candidates stayed on the bench for fear of joining the mosh pit of cannibalism the primary has become, setting the stage for a potential loss in 2012 that not even Charlie Sheen will be able to spin as a victory.

Jonah Goldberg is a visiting fellow at AEI

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About the Author

 

Jonah
Goldberg

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    A bestselling author and columnist, Jonah Goldberg's nationally syndicated column appears regularly in scores of newspapers across the United States. He is also a columnist for the Los Angeles Times, a member of the board of contributors to USA Today, a contributor to Fox News, a contributing editor to National Review, and the founding editor of National Review Online. He was named by the Atlantic magazine as one of the top 50 political commentators in America. In 2011 he was named the Robert J. Novak Journalist of the Year at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). He has written on politics, media, and culture for a wide variety of publications and has appeared on numerous television and radio programs. Prior to joining National Review, he was a founding producer for Think Tank with Ben Wattenberg on PBS and wrote and produced several other PBS documentaries. He is the recipient of the prestigious Lowell Thomas Award. He is the author of two New York Times bestsellers, The Tyranny of Clichés (Sentinel HC, 2012) and Liberal Fascism (Doubleday, 2008).  At AEI, Mr. Goldberg writes about political and cultural issues for American.com and the Enterprise Blog.

    Follow Jonah Goldberg on Twitter.


  • Phone: 202-862-7165
    Email: jonah.goldberg@aei.org

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