2011 — The year in review

Rick Robinson Author, Writ of Mandamus
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Alright, with only seven days gone by in 2011, it does seem a bit early for a “Year in Review” column. But, so much has happened in the last week, it seems a shame to wait 51 more weeks before reflecting on all these stories. After all, only one of those will be the foundation of next December’s review columns.

The snowstorm that ate New York shut down the Big Apple for days, and business on the eastern seaboard nearly came to a standstill. In fact, had it not been for the alcohol purchases made by on-duty New York City sanitation workers, commerce would have come to a complete halt.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was criticized by some of his constituents for watching the entire snow storm on the Weather Channel from a special cable hookup inside a secret lair in Cinderella’s Castle at Disney World. Interestingly, poll results released this week saw Christie’s national numbers skyrocket. Apparently, most Americans understand that no one really wants to be in New Jersey even during good weather, so they are rewarding him in the polls for his good judgment to stay away — a fortiori — during the bad.

Haley Barbour used his gubernatorial powers to suspend the prison sentences of sisters Jamie and Gladys Scott. The siblings had been in jail serving life terms in Mississippi since 1993 for stealing about the amount of money necessary to purchase two venti vanilla lattes at a Starbucks. The suspensions were issued on the condition that one sister give the other a kidney. In doing so, Barbour set the stage for a presidential run in two years. He can now run on a platform that, when elected, he will not trade pardons for contributions to his Presidential Library Fund, but that pardons will always be available in exchange for body parts.

In Nevada, a comatose school girl who had been tragically injured when she was hit by a car on her way home from school was visited in the hospital by a police officer. He was there — get this — to give her a ticket for jaywalking. No punch line could be written to emphasize the absurd stupidity of this story.

And of course there was our own Tucker Carlson, dog-loving publisher of The Daily Caller. He went on Hannity to clarify his previous televised statement indicating that Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick should have been executed for his crimes against canines. When pushed, however, Carlson did state that Vick should have been required to give one of his kidneys to a dog as a condition of his return to the NFL.

But, despite all of these gripping news stories which held the nation’s attention for as long as it took for the Scott sisters to drink a Starbucks vanilla latte, the story of 2011 was (and will continue to be for the remainder of the year) the transfer of power in the United States House of Representatives.

2011 — The year of the House GOP

John Boehner’s term as Speaker of the House of Representatives wasn’t a day old before battle lines were being drawn on newsroom floors. Cable news is already fixated on Speaker Boehner and his merry band of House Republicans. Commentators are not likely to lose this focus anytime soon.

No matter what else happens this year, anywhere in the world, cable news will ensure that every story will contain a news connection to the GOP-controlled House. Fame or blame on any given story will simply depend on which network a viewer decides to follow.

Consider the news coverage when the US Department of Statistical Stuff releases its annual report on the number of children injured while playing Mumblety Peg, a childhood game wherein children throw pocket knives at each other’s feet (made popular in the Mark Twain classic The Boy from Calaveras County with Seven Toes).

MSNBC will cover the story by blaming the Republican-controlled House for cutting the federal funds used for pocket knife awareness programs. Keith Olbermann will go so far as to make Speaker John Boehner his “Worst Person in the World” for failing to support a bill mandating a five-day waiting period on the purchase of a pocket knife.

Fox News will cover the Mumblety Peg story by interviewing Speaker Boehner, who will point out that the number of Mumblety Peg injuries were actually higher during the Carter administration. With tears welling in his eyes, Boehner will reassure viewers that his Republican-controlled House understands the mandate they had been given, when the American people went to the polls and voted that they no longer wanted any government interference in the operation of Mumblety Peg leagues.

Last year’s Mumblety Peg national champion will have a guest spot Hannity’s Great American Panel and challenge President Obama to a game of pocket knife tossing on the lawn of the White House. For that challenge, by the way, Chris Matthews will call for an immediate investigation by Homeland Security.

So, Speaker Boehner’s job in 2011 is to understand that 2011, for good or bad, will be remembered as the “Year of the GOP-Controlled House.” The whole year will be a game at “Six Degrees of John Boehner.” He can bend in the political breeze to the commentators and pundits. Or, he can remain laser sharp in his focus, moving only that legislation which he truly believes will get the nation back on the right track.

The upside is that Speaker Boehner gets to spend the next 51 weeks writing his own year in review. (Note to Speaker Boehner — the whole story will read better if you agree to give Nancy Pelosi a kidney).

Rick Robinson is the author of political thrillers which can be purchased on Amazon and at book stores everywhere. His latest novel, Manifest Destiny has won seven writing awards, including Best Fiction at the Paris Book Festival.