Greatest Loss among World Leaders – Nelson Mandela. Followed by his worthy heir and successor, President Thado Mbeki, he made and kept South Africa stable, growing, tolerant and democratic. One for the ages. Like Dr. King, we shall not see his like easily or soon again.
Most Welcome Surprise as World Leader – Pope Francis I. He didn’t dismantle the Catholic Church or revise a single doctrine. He shamed the forces of psychopathic unbridled greed from pole to pole and fearlessly expressed the most decent and humane of values.
Most Welcome Surprise as World Leader (2) – Egypt’s Defense Minister Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi toppled increasingly extreme and unpredictable President Mohammed Morsi and banned his apparently triumphant Muslim Brotherhood. The usual armchair commentators and columnists in New York and Washington fulminated and fumed, but Egypt’s six million Christian Copts thanked their God they were spared from looming massacre and most of the Egyptian people seemed just fine with the move too.
Most Welcome Surprises as American Leaders – Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Sen. Patty Murray of Washington. They showed real political and moral courage as well as high patriotism in reaching their agreement to keep the U.S. government running for the next couple of years at least without any more of moment to moment partisan crises that were making this country the laughing stock of the world.
Most Unwelcome Sporting Surprise of the Year – The Ravens aren’t going back to the Super Bowl. Never mind, with these guys, you really do only have to Wait Till Next Year.
Most Unwelcome Expected Spotting Event of the Year – The Red Sox won their third World Series in a decade making the Harvard crowd even more insufferable than ever. Still, as any old Yankees fan would say, only 19 more titles to go to catch up.
Most Welcome (and Expected) Sporting Event of the Year – The Redskins go 3-13. You think they can’t do worse? Wait Till Next Year.
Most Unexpected Sporting Event of the Year – Peyton Manning’s great run. Like President Mandela and the finest of wines and scotches, Peyton shows age only makes you better.
Most Unexpected Sporting Tragedy of the Year – Michael Schumacher’s skiing accident. Flawless at 300 mph in Formula One and this happens on a ski slope? Sometimes the fates are bitter indeed.
Most Overrated American Politician of 2013 – Sen. Ted Cruz. His hapless, gung-ho charge made even the GOP House Majority realize how despised and hapless they really are. Let the Tea Partier cheer on – He’s toast.
Most Underrated American Politician of 2013 – Sen. Rand Paul. Smooth as the best Kentucky moonshine. Let Ted Cruz take all the political fire and blame for the Government Shutdown Fiasco and not a cinder fell on his smooth, unruffled feathers. Has the Tea Party vote locked down and perfectly positioned to reassure the GOP mainstream too. Way ahead of Chris Christie in the race for 2016.
Most Underrated American Politician of 2013 – Mayor Michael Bloomberg steps down after three terms keeping New York the safest, most prosperous and most joyous of world cities, and he did all this after 9/11. On top of all that every conservative and liberal pundit alike sneers at and belittles him. With a CV like that, ya gotta go Third Party in 2016, Mike.
Biggest Disappointment as World Leader – Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan. Not only did he run up the government debt mountain to more than 200 percent of GDP, his needless, fake-macho patriotic bluster refused to acknowledge Japan’s terrible World War II crimes and managed to outrage democratic, pro-American South Korea as well as mighty China.
Biggest Moron of 2013 – Edward Snowden. So outraged at evil American Government surveillance and threat to democracy he fled to the Kremlin. As Bugs Bunny liked to say, “What a maroon!”
Most Under-Estimated World Leader of 2013 – Barack Obama. He humiliated the Republicans in Congress, won the Government Shut-Down Show-Down, presided over real economic recovery without inflation and kept the US from plunging into yet another un-necessary war in the Middle East (in Syria). And this was a bad year??
Martin Sieff is an editor at Sputnik, the Russian-owned news organization. He is the author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Middle East (2008), Gathering Storm (2014) and Cycles of Change: The Three Great Eras of American History and the Coming Crisis that will Lead to the Fourth (2014). Follow Martin on: @MartinSieff