The Way We Were
The best and worst of 2011.

The August riots in England — a 2011 worst


Jim’s Best/Happiest Story of 2011: The Louisiana Comeback under Gov. Bobby Jindal: Conservative reforms can work, even in some of the most unlikely places.

Jim’s Worst Story of 2011: The wasted potential of Jon Huntsman as the most credible critic of Obama’s mismanagement at home and abroad.

Looking forward to in the New Year: all Republicans cheerfully and respectfully articulating our differences in the process of selecting a nominee to be the next president.

— Jim Geraghty writes the Campaign Spot blog on National Review Online.


The standout speech of 2011 was easily that given by Benedict XVI on 22 September to the German Bundestag. Delivered not far from history’s most infamous bunker, the Pope managed in fewer than 2,700 words not only to identify some of the West’s worst philosophical pathologies, which have narrowed the horizons of human reason and imagination, but also to suggest ways out of Western man’s self-imposed intellectual prison. It was quite a contrast to the limp address to Britain’s House of Lords given one month earlier by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, in which he managed to minimize the personal responsibility of the rioters who trashed London for three days in August, and instead stressed the importance of “context” and the need “to engage creatively with the possibilities that this moment gives us.” It was liberal Christianity/Church of England–ism at its hairy-lefty worst.

One event to watch in the first quarter of 2012 will be Pope Benedict’s visit to Cuba. As the Castro brothers’ regime slowly totters into obsolescence (much like the generation of 1968, for whom Castro’s dictatorship was such a poster-child), the Pope will surely not miss the opportunity to remind Cubans and the rest of the world that such is the fruit of the pursuit of secular utopias and the denial of liberty and truth.

— Samuel Gregg is research director at the Acton Institute. He has authored several books, including On Ordered Liberty, his prize-winning The Commercial SocietyWilhelm Röpke’s Political Economy, and his forthcoming Becoming Europe: Economic Decline, Culture, and America’s Future.

Well at my age, it’s hard to remember 2011 — it all dissolves into a fog of war — but I do seem to remember some happy moments. My favorite book was “Spengler’s” wonderful It’s Not the End of the World, It’s Only the End of You. The worst moment for me was when Fred Thompson decided to withdraw from the presidential race. What? Wrong year? But I remember it so clearly.

Next year’s best event: Ahmadinejad and Khomeini take asylum in Pyongyang with that chubby little dictator.

— Michael Ledeen is author of Virgil’s Golden Egg and Other Neapolitan Miracles: An Investigation into the Sources of Creativity.


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