2022 Dubious Achievement Awards
As we look back on this most tumultuous year, we had a bit of everything: a horrendous, inexplicable war, more and more disastrous climate change events including wildfires and floods, mass shootings and more mass shootings, inflation and looming recession, the tenaciousness of Covid, the collapse of the crypto myth, and on and on. While some of these events may be subject only to limited human control, others can more deservingly be attributed to the stupidity, foolishness and downright evil of some of our fellow man (but rarely women, with some exceptions).
In this holiday season, it is only fitting that we recognize some of those who have made contributions to our woes over and above those of the average person. Therefore, I am devoting this piece to those who stand out for their truly idiotic behavior.
The State Farm Bad Neighbor Award goes to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who, after his military invasion failed miserably, turned his efforts to “save” his fellow Slavs in Ukraine from their “Nazi” leaders by bombing their cities and freezing them to death. “Since the ungrateful Ukrainians don’t seem to want such salvation, I want to make sure of their non-existence by obliterating their population,” Mr. Putin boasted.
The Big Mouth Billy Bass Award goes to Elon Musk, who used his maniacal rantings on Twitter…to take over Twitter. After dissipating a sizable portion of his Tesla-derived fortune by overpaying for the company, and proceeding to load it with debt and doing his best to dismantle it, he complained that it was on the verge of bankruptcy.
The Talented Mr. Ripley Award goes to George Santos, the Republican Congressman-elect for part of Long Island, who managed to lie about every one of his biographical facts including his college attendance, employment history, source of his wealth and even his claimed family history of fleeing from the Nazis. Oh, and he seemed to forget about the pending check fraud case against him in his native Brazil.
The Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner Award goes to (who else?) Donald Trump for his infamous dinner party with notable anti-Semites Kevin Fuentes and Kanye West. Asked why he didn’t make it a more fulsome foursome, Mr. Trump blithely replied: “Kyrie Irving had a game that night.”
The Martha Mitchell Ultra Delusional Award is awarded to Georgia Representative Margery Taylor-Greene. This should really be a lifetime award for Taylor-Greene for her advocacy of QAnon conspiracy theories, making threats to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, rants against gay and transgender people and claiming that a wildfire in California was caused “by a laser beamed from space and controlled by a prominent Jewish family with connections with Democrats.” But special note is given here for her assertion that “Pelosi’s gazpacho police [is] spying on members of Congress, spying on the legislative work that we do, spying on our staff and spying on American citizens that want to talk to their representatives.”
The “I Barely Said Hello Before I Had To Say Goodbye” Award is given to Liz Truss, the erstwhile Tory Prime Minister, who reigned over Great Britain for a grand total of 45 days after cluelessly proposing tax cuts for the rich and increased spending that nearly led to the collapse of the gilt market in the face of record inflation and imminent recession.
The Rhett Butler “Frankly, My Dear, I Don’t Give a Damn” Award is given to Will Smith, who in a misguided chivalrous attempt to protect his wife’s honor, slapped comedian Chris Rock at the Academy Awards for Rock’s tasteless joke about her hair loss caused by a medical condition.
The Now You See It, Now You Don’t Award goes to Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of crypto exchange FTX. The only unanimous recipient, Mr. Bankman-Fried made billions of dollars disappear while hiding behind a facade of altruism, making us remember the ultimate truism: “how do you make a small fortune? Start with a large fortune.”
Of course, there is really no end to the foibles of mankind, and I could have continued this list into the New Year and beyond if I chose. But let’s not leave 2022 without recognizing some of the notably positive events of the year. To name just a few: the work of the January 6 Committee who called out our former president and his band of thugs for engaging in nothing less than sedition and treason to try to overthrow a legitimate election, the remarkable artificial creation of fusion that represents great hope that human ingenuity can solve the climate crisis. And the Argentine soccer team for their triumph in the greatest stage of the “beautiful game” and to their French opponents for their determination and graciousness in defeat.
But, I would be profligate if I did not mention the courage and resolve of Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, a comedian elected president who once played a comedian elected president on TV, for leading his people in their miraculous resistance to the Russian bullies in his nation’s ultimate existential crisis. Slava Ukraini!