Monday, December 28, 2009

Decade with no name? Says who?

   And so we say farewell to the Decade of Levi Johnston, he who impregnated a vice presidential candidate's teen daughter, paraded before the nation as a picture of family values, had his affections alienated, did an armpit- bearing fold-out photo session and appeared on enough talk shows to become a household face.

   That the candidate's name needs no utterance, not to mention the daughter's or even the child's, says a lot about the 10-year stretch just about done.

    It was the Decade of Jon and Kate, they who became celebrities because a cable channel pronounced them and their eight children as much. Then they split viciously and became more celebrated.

    It was the Decade of the Dramatic Squirrel, an emotive rodent which had drawn 1,240,046 online hits when I checked YouTube. You can add to the number. Go ahead.

     Or it was Paris Hilton Decade, or the Elizabeth Lambert Decade, named in either case for people whose charms, or lack of them, were broadcast for all to see via the World Wide Web — the first by a sex tape, the second by images of the University of New Mexico soccer player pulling an opponent to the ground by her hair.

      We wish we could say farewell to them, but they're still there and will be far into the next, yet-to-be-named decade.

       Now, you're saying that the decade we hereby depart never got a name, either. Aughts? Trendily trite. Oh-Ohs? Well, not bad, if your name is Mark Sanford, or Elliott Spitzer, or John Edwards.

       Fact is, the decade has lots of great names. For instance, it was the Decade of The Family. Not the biological unit venerated by scoundrels for political gain. No. During this decade, a secretive group of Republican politicians liked to quote the Bible and convene at the secretive "C Street House" in the nation's capital — for prayer, of course. In 2009, the secretive C-street fellows were wracked by a string of sex scandals, headed by Sanford, and including Sen. John Ensign and former Congressman Charles "Chip" Pickering.

       But if you think it was a decade for mea culpas, no. It was the They-A Culpa Decade. "Scooter" Libby took the rap for a campaign waged by Dick Cheney to go after a former envoy who knew too much about the false pretexts for invading Iraq.

      In case after case, people who sought to speak truth to power relative to a war built on lies, truth tellers like Cindy Sheehan, or former terrorism czar Richard Clarke or former CIA analyst Ray McGovern, each became the issue, amazingly.

      Yes, it was their credibility we were to examine, not that of the incredible band of schemers and storytellers prosecuting a war that never would have happened had truth been known or Congress or a cowed media been receptive thereto.

       George W. Bush strode away from it all with a wink.

       It was the Outsourcing Decade, the Privatizing Decade, the Government Run as a Business Decade, and we were all shown how well that worked when Katrina was the storm of the decade.

       It was a decade so full of insults to the collective intelligence that 10 years wasn't enough to make anyone pay for them, except suddenly to hear that Barack Obama was to blame for a bad economy, for dollars spent without accountability, and for "dithering" on wars he didn't start.

         So, in a way, it was a public service that we had Levi Johnston, Paris Hilton,  "Dancing With the Stars," YouTube, Facebook and sex scandals galore to distract us. Otherwise, we might not have anything to complain about as we enter another decade in search of a name.

        John Young writes for Cox Newspapers. E-mail:


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