Harry R. Jackson, Jr.

Many of us are looking forward to 2010 and thinking about what resolutions we will make. We are glad this year is coming to a close, as 2009 will go down in history as a year of scandals, disgraces, and re-evaluations. This will be, for some, the year we never thought would end. AP writer Jeffrey Collins believed this concept so strongly that he subtitled a Christmas Eve article, “2009 is the Year of the Bad Decision in SC.”

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He cited 4 amazingly bad decisions in the state. First, Marc Torchi decided to spruce up the neighborhood by burning some debris in his yard, which led to the most costly wildfire in South Carolina history. Next, Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps went to Columbia, SC - just to hang out - and some of his “friends” photographed him smoking from a sixties-styled marijuana pipe. Third, Congressman Joe Wilson got so upset about President Obama’s healthcare plan and his delivery of a message before Congress that he shouted out the phrase, “You, lie!” Finally, the article alluded to Governor Mark Sanford’s mysterious disappearance so that he could be with his “soul mate.” The rendezvous led to disgrace and divorce in the governor’s mansion.

Jeffrey Collins went on and on in his half-social commentary, half-rant style to explain the epic proportions of the South Carolina’s year-long “judgment gate.” To summarize his sentiments he wrote, “It seemed that with every click on a news Website in 2009, someone in South Carolina was making a choice that left the rest of the nation shaking its collective head.” For this chagrinned writer, John Stewart’s parody of the state entitled “Thank You South Carolina” aired in August on the Daily Show was the height of ignominy and shame.

Unfortunately for the rest of us, South Carolina is not the only place where bad decisions were made in 2009. The rest of the nation had its own unique “faux pas” or own “judgment gates.” I use the word “gate” to pick up on the concept that in the Nixon era the “Watergate” scandal became a national embarrassment. This past year was so filled with gaffs that I could list 12 or 15 major national or political “watergate” moments. Let me remind you of just a few.


Harry R. Jackson, Jr.

Bishop Harry Jackson is chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, MD, and co-authored, Personal Faith, Public Policy [FrontLine; March 2008] with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.