Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Obiter Dictum's Year in Review

Biggest Story of the Past Month: The Tax Man Cometh
Quigley's exit, despite the plethora of developments in the gubernatorial race. As Rep. JohFritcheyey observes here, the dynamics in the Democratic primary fofor CCBCB president will be inescapable in its influence on those higher up on the ticket, both because of the raciaracial polarizationon and the fact that Stroger, (backed nominally by the Mayor and perhaps also by the Governor), may soon find himself as popular as George III in sububan Cook County. And, of course, the Elijah Muhammed connection won't help, either.

Winners of the Past Year
(Drumroll, please. In no particular order....)
Jeannine Nicarico
What more can be said? Despite the political capital that Birkett wilundoubtedlyly reap for the Dugan indictment, she is the real "winner" here.
John Roberts
I hate to utter the same old bromides about how great he is and why can't we all just be happy with the SCOTUS, but our new chief justice is a paragon of legal and moral certainty in an increasingly uncertain world.
Joe Birkett
For doing the right thing. Oh, yeah, and that lieutenant governor business...
Forrest Claypool
After a spring and summer of uncertainty, he is now assured the chance to take on John Stroger one-on-one...as long as no one else enters the race.
Losers
Pope John Paul II
A humanitarian icon and Papist idol, the Pope tried to walk the fine line between conservativsensibilitieses and contemporary norms-and succeeded. While rumors of imminent death(and an '80s assassination attempt) had been bringing periodic headlines for the past several years, his frail condition seemed only to enhance his appeal. Pope John Paul II, who rose to power after the brief tenure of John Paul I, could aptly be known as the first modern Pope, a Cardinal Bernardin for the entire world.

In Passing
Rosa Parks
The doyenne of the 20th century civil rights movement proved that seemingly ordinary acts can achieve historical immortality. Was she the time's only catalyst? Far from it, but Parks became the public face of the early civil rights movement, and one that bore the scars of the utter cruelty that Jim Crow was for the African Americans of the south.

William Renquist
The SCOTUS titan's conservative-and highly cerebral-philosophy and the quiet cordiality with which he presided made him an Article Three trademark for nearly two decades, a lasting relic from sometime before the courtroom-acircusis era. Renquist, elevated to chief justice in 1986, served until his death in September. He acquired his reputation for a strictly federalist approach in US vs. Lopez and other cases, making him a watchword for a new generation of right-leaning young lawyers.
Richard Pryor
The pioneering comedian's death was made even more poignant by Peoria's conflicted feelings over its native son. Several years ago, the city council narrowly approved a measure to create an eponymous "Richard Pryor Place" in his former neighborhood. Pryor, who died of a heart attack earlier this month, made frequent references to his hometown in his unique and always controversial brand of humor. His unsentimental candor enabled him to poke dark fun at even the most distrubing of memories, such as when he literally set himself on fire while free-basing cocaine. ("When you're running down the street on fire, people get out of your way.") For a city that has had its share of racial strife, Pryor is a fitting epitaph.

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