Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Top 10 News Stories of 2004

1. The re-election of George W. Bush and the new prominence of the “values voter”
Despite a difficult war and the concerted opposition of most of the “old media,” the president on a solid victory and plans a big second-term agenda. Key to Bush’s victory were evangelicals and “values voters,” who once again were turned off by the secular Democrats.

2. The marriage debate
The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts ordered state lawmakers to legalize marriage between homosexuals, President Bush decided to support the Federal Marriage Amendment (which failed its first test in Congress), and voters in 11 states passed measures supporting heterosexual marriage in 11 states on November 2.

3. The stem-cell debate
With the deaths of Ronald Reagan and Christopher Reeve, supporters of embryonic stem-cell research (including John Edwards) largely ignored progress with adult stem cells and attempted to win public support for research that destroys nascent human life for uncertain and over-hyped scientific cures. California voters, already deeply in hock, voted to spend $3 billion for stem-cell research.

4. The Passion of the Christ
Despite wild charges that it (1) would spark anti-Semitism and (2) would be a financial flop, Mel Gibson’s self-financed film about the last hours of Jesus became a huge hit, earning more than $500 million. Many viewers said the movie changed their lives.

5. The battle for democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan
Despite continuing terrorism, poverty, and widespread skepticism about a culture with no history of democracy, men–and women–in Afghanistan voted in a democratic government. In Iraq, meanwhile, terrorists attempted to wreak havoc before scheduled democratic elections. The U.S. death toll surpassed 1,300.

6. Hostage beheadings
Videos of Islamic terrorists beheading civilians in Iraq while chanting praise to Allah shocked the world. A sidebar to this story was the diffidence of the mainstream media to downplay or ignore this horror while hammering the Abu Ghraib story ad nauseam.

7. Abu Ghraib
The abuse and torture of prisoners by American soldiers came to light with the release of disturbing videos. The images seemed to undermine the moral status of the war in Iraq while confirming Muslim stereotypes of a “godless America.” The mainstream media prolonged the story for weeks, in an apparent attempt to undermine the re-election of the president.

8. Earthquake disaster
An earthquake and resulting tsunamis killed tens of thousands in south Asia. Measuring 9.0 on the Richter scale, the temblor was the strongest in 40 years.

9. Florida’s hurricane hell
Four hurricanes hit Florida in succession in early fall, causing widespread anguish and devastation.

10. The death of Ronald Reagan
The summer passing of the 40th president after a long battle with Alzheimer’s sparked an outpouring of love and patriotism that shocked liberal and conservative alike, and presaged November’s election results.


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