The victorious--and the defeated--in this epic, chaotic, thrilling, terrifying, potentially disastrous, and occasionally triumphant year.
Say what you will about 2011, at least it wasn't boring.
It was a year of exhilarating highs and crushing lows, of galloping heroes and sneering, hideous villans. The royal couple had their fairy-tale wedding. The skeevy former governor of California got the public shaming he deserved. The worst guy on the planet was shot in the face by a strapping Navy SEAL. Geronimo!
Of course, it wasn't all sweet justice and pretty princesses dancing in Buckingham Palace. It was also a year of deep uncertainty, of revolution without resolution. People stormed into the streets, fighting economic inequality, throwing off brutal dictatorships, demanding change. Congress got us to the brink of a government shutdown, then, a few months later, did it again. It's been a full 12 months of having a low-grade but persistent feeling that we might just be on the verge of total meltdown. It's been exhausting.
But we haven't collapsed--not yet. Europe is still hanging together, thanks to the herculean efforts of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. We've tiptoed out of Iraq, led from behind in Libya, and now we look on hopefully as the Middle East battles its way toward a distant peace. In America, after a reality-show primary, we are on the verge of having an actual Republican presidential nominee. Ketchup may be a vegetable again, but pepper spray isn't. These are real things to be thankful for.
Like every year in recent memory, 2011 was also a time of men behaving badly. Business has never been better for Gloria Allred, ringmaster of 2010's Tiger Woods debacle, which now seems like just a curtain raiser for Anthony Weiner, Herman Cain, Charlie Sheen, and Dominique Strauss-Kahn. By the way, can 2012 please be the year politicians stop taking cellphone pictures of their genitalia?
Perhaps the biggest unqualified winner of 2011 is a 24-year-old virgin. Tim Tebow, God's quarterback, has driven his team to a string of miraculous victories. Now teenagers around the country are "Tebowing"--bending down on one knee, as he does, in prayer position. You know what teenagers are not doing? Boehnering. (As much as everyone loves Tebow, they hate Congress. Fail!)
Join us as we celebrate the winners and jeer the losers of this epic year. And all hail 2012! You couldn't have come soon enough.
The American left finally found its voice this fall, driven into the streets in a rage over high unemployment and the coddling of Wall Street. It may not be a perfectly coherent voice, but it has been an enormously influential one, forcing politicians to talk about the vast wealth disparities that exist in the country today. Occupy is bound to have an outsize effect on this election cycle.
SEAL Team 6
Forget GI Joe. The new American superman is a member of this elite Navy squad, which took out Osama bin Laden last spring in a near-flawless raid on his compound in Pakistan. At a time when we're short on brawn and guts, ST6 gave us genuine heroes--and a triumphant finale to our decade-long pursuit of the bunker-dwelling al Qaeda mastermind.
The Latter-day Saints had a banner year. The Book of Mormon was a sensation on Broadway. The church also boasts the only two reliably sane contenders for the GOP nomination in Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman. All that exposure has its downside, but with outreach efforts the church has managed to turn a massive spotlight into an opportunity to spread the good word.
Will and Kate
It would have been easy to flub a line or trip over a train, but with 2 billion pairs of eyes on them, the royal couple pulled off a perfect wedding on April 29. Her dress was spectacular; his whispered phrase in Westminster Abbey was the stuff of every little girl's dream. …