Saturday, December 31, 2011

December 31, 2011

Well, here we are again – the end of an old year, the beginning of a new.  As it has in the past, the column takes note today of some people we lost during the old year and whom we'll miss in the new.

Geraldine Ferraro died, a woman of charm and intelligence who proved you don't have to be mean to be in politics.

My personal list of those I'll miss starts with Andy Rooney, the longtime commentator for CBS' 60 Minutes.  "I want to do this forever," Andy used to say.  If there are gods and if they are kind, there is a corner somewhere in the afterlife where with a typewriter, a microphone and maybe a baggy tweed jacket we shared one year, he's doing just that.

On the Republican side Betty Ford, a remarkable woman who, among her many accomplishments, proved exactly the same thing.

Journalism lost David Broder, a reporter who covered politics.  I had the same beat for a number of years and would have to say he was the best I ever saw.  He probably knew more county chairmen by their first names than any reporter in America.  Good night, David.

Those of us who covered politics will miss Sargent Shriver, a principled man whose greatest public legacy would be his stewardship of the Peace Corps.

Elizabeth Taylor died.  She led such a turbulent life – multiple marriages, illnesses, tragedies, lots of movies which made lots of money.  It's hard to know what to say about her because she transcended so many of our ideas about what is possible for one person, however gifted, to achieve.  It's a life I really cannot imagine.  Nor could I imagine that the legend of her violet eyes was true until I saw them.

There are three who died this year I will not miss-- North Korea's Kim Jong Il,  Libya's Muammar Qaddafi and, of course, Osama bin Laden.  All three were dictators in one way or another in stark contrast to another international loss:  Vaclav Havel of Czechoslovakia/the Czech Republic, who emphatically was not.  He believed in and fought for democracy.  The world is a better place for the deaths of three;  better, for the life of one.


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