2010-12-30 / Opinion

2010: The best and the worst

MSNBC chose Florida Democratic nominee Alex Sink as Worst Political Candidate of 2010 for her failed bid against Republican governor-elect Rick Scott.

I’m not so sure about that call.

Not with folks such as Christine “I am not a witch” O’Donnell garnering way too many votes up in Delaware.

“It’s unbelievable,” proclaimed MSNBC’s Chuck Todd in bestowing on Sink the, er, dishonor.

“Think about it,” asserted Mr. Todd, a Miami native. “You lost to a guy who defrauded Medicare — in Florida! OK? More people on Medicare perhaps in the state of Florida per capita than maybe any other state!”

For certain, state CFO Sink failed to exploit neophyte Scott’s political flaws. And like many a Dem she ran an uninspired campaign.

But Mr. Scott not only deftly surfed conservatism’s latest wave. In barely winning Florida’s closest gubernatorial battle since 1876, he spent a state record $70-plus million, most of it his own dough.

Seems our professional political punditry should be paying a lot more attention to the money influencing our elections.

Pronouncing awards obviously is more fun.

In fact, I soon was generating my own. For example, for 2010’s Worst Christmas Tree I nominate the $11 million, jewelencrusted “most expensive Christmas tree ever.”

That’s according to the manager of the Emirates Palace hotel, whose Abu Dhabi lobby the faux tree graced.

Immediate thought: Why not scrimp with a miserly $1 million tree? Then with the remaining $10 million, apply such imperatives as feeding the needy. They might be hard to find in Abu Dhabi, but they abound in neighboring countries.

This reminded me of the excesses that helped land other area rulers in trouble: The last Shah of Iran splurged billions on U.S. jet fighters that were outside Iranian territory before they even got up to speed.

Meanwhile, back in the capital and arguably richest emirate of the United Arab Emirates, the hotel soon was ’fessing up to “overload.”

Regrets were made regarding the monument to conspicuous consumption. The Emirates Palace, it was explained, had served only as the venue, for a hotel-based jeweler’s exhibition in quest of a Guinness record. A statement carried by the staterun news agency cited the “values of openness and tolerance” in the international business and tourism hub.

Of course, catering to Westerners is good business. But is bad taste?

Moving on, how about the Worst Analysis of South Florida’s Professional Sports Scene?

Was it the media hand-wringing over the poor start by the Mammy Hates, better known (especially now that they are winning) as the Miami Heat?

Or, all the angst over the bumbling Miami Dolphins, whose owner Stephen Ross had predicted — make that promised — a Super Bowl appearance this year?

Well, one hardly can blame a team owner for being a homer, or trying to sell tickets.

Thus my whiners — er, “winners,” were the commentators who, before the Heat’s recent 12-game win streak, were calling Coach Erik Spoelstra a goner, and all but reinstalling Pat Riley, former coach and now president, on the bench.

Sure, analysts have gotta analyze. But the reality is the new, LeBron James-equipped but uncoordinated Heat model, limped into the season with key injuries. The question is how well the players eventually execute an idea called “team.”

Next, for non-sports enthusiasts, how about Best/Worst Performance in a Spiritual Drama?

Was it Gainesville’s “burning pastor,” who wanted to desecrate a certain holy text?

Or the media that fawned over him to the point of international celebrity?

Better was America’s concerted rejection of His Royal Hatefulness.

Better still were the Palm Beach Atlantic University youths who rallied at West Palm Beach’s Centennial Square against extremism of any stripe. The Christian college’s students particularly challenged the idea of someone saying or doing hurtful things in the name of their religion.

I have a soft spot in my heart (all right, head too) for this kind of sanity. With yesteryear’s flower children largely gone AWOL, this nod goes to the kids.

Meanwhile, having long paid attention to the natural foods scene, I thought I’d check for 2010’s bests in that arena. Among several, Brenna Bertram-Salman, marketing director at the Whole Foods Market in Palm Beach Gardens, cited:

“Crème Brûlée Chevre – Ramekins filled with fresh goat cheese and layered with offerings like fig and cocoa or lemon and cherry. These made-to-order gems are topped (with) flavored sugars and caramelized to perfection.”

It was the Best Reminder of How Far That Industry Has Come since the early ’70s. Back then, folks used tongs to grab tofu from bulk containers at such groceries as The Health Concern in Towson, Md. How to have imagined that today, such “natural food store” items would be packaged staples available even at non-specialty grocers?

Let’s shift gears and note that we’re leaving behind not only another year, but also another decade.

Thus, included among various Items That Became Obsolete During The Last 10 Years are maps, watches and wired — as opposed to wireless — anything.

The obvious “culprit,” if you will, is everadvancing technology. When’s the last time you received an America Online disc in the mail? Yet I also would add such low-tech items as the Electoral College.

My Outdated of The Decade vote, however, goes to the encyclopedia. Specifically, the print version.

(By the way, the oft-augured demise of the print newspaper? Like paperless offices, greatly exaggerated.)

Back to encyclopedias: Remember Honey Ryder, the Bond girl Ursula Andress portrayed in “Dr. No”? She told 007 that’s how she had educated herself, starting with the letter A and having worked her way up to T. 

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