When a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully. — Samuel Johnson
So, soon, it will be sayonara 2006. As we ring in the new, what sort of year was the old we ring out — the good, the bad, the bizarre?
Abroad, the news was of Iraq — ever Iraq: its first elected government installed at last, the conviction of Saddam, and (for him) the genuine prospect of a noose. And of Iran enriching uranium and building nuclear centrifuges; of North Korea lofting rockets capable of carrying nuclear payloads it insisted it can produce; of Sudan, and Ethiopia advancing on Mogadishu. Of Guantanamo, rendition, jihadist telephone surveillance and sleuthing the jihadist money trail. Mexico with a shadow presidency; Hugo Chavez subbing — and well — for the wasting Comrade Fidel; Ehud Olmert taking the reins from Ariel “The Bulldozer” Sharon.
The year 2006 was the trial of Saddam Hussein, and the trials of Lebanon under the yokes of Syria, Iran and Hezbollah. An electoral victory for Hamas. The arrest in Britain of jihadists intending to blow up multiple aircraft. Pope Benedict XVI inspiring jihadist ire. The Chinese economic dragon rampant, and China’s Three Gorges Dam ramping up.
Nationally, let’s see. The nation’s population hit 300 million. The Dow and gold set altitude records. It was BlackBerry settled, Samuel Alito in, Donald Rumsfeld out and Barbaro scratched. Layoffs at GM and Ford. Illegals demonstrating in the streets under the flags of their first allegiance, Barry Bonds clobbering past the Babe, Congressman William Jefferson stashing his money in his freezer and winning landslide re-election. A faceful of shot for Harry Whittington from his good buddy the veep. Warren Buffet teaming up with Bill and Melinda Gates to do a whole lot of good.
The year brought death to Sago coal miners near Buckhannon, W.Va.; to five Amish girls in Lancaster County, Pa.; and to three climbers on Mount Hood. School choice turned 50, as did the Interstate highway system. 2006 was the year of cutie Katie bombing at CBS, Tour de France winner Floyd Landis likely doping, the price of gasoline plunging, Zacarias Moussaoui escaping the juice for life, Tom DeLay and Jack Abramoff moving toward a long day’s night in infamy. It was, as well, the bald eagle — and perhaps nuclear power — redux.
Ross Mackenzie lives with his wife and Labrador retriever in the woods west of Richmond, Virginia. They have two grown sons, both Naval officers.
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