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The Top 'Non-Troversies' Of 2008

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The Top 'Non-Troversies' Of 2008

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The Top 'Non-Troversies' Of 2008

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Today is New Year's Eve, and commentator John Ridley is marking the end of 2008 with a list of controversies that really weren't, he calls them non-troversies.

JOHN RIDLEY: Oh, they seemed so important at the time, didn't they? The issues over which much ink was spilled, many talking heads blathered, in some cases, congressional committees were convened. But as we prepare to turn the calendar page, what seemed monumental then in retrospect has all the significance of Dennis Kucinich stump speech. So before they completely fade from memory, let's take a look back on some of the top non-troversies of 2008.

Was that Chinese Olympic gymnast 14, or was she 16? And did anybody really think the same country that puts lead paint on our children's toys was going to come clean about this? America needed to let this gold medal loss go and just relive the Olympic magic with another Michael Phelps commercial.

In chattering-class politics, The New Yorker runs a cover caricature of Barack and Michelle Obama as dangerous radicals, an attempt at satire which displayed the wits and charm of an Ivy League sorority pledge at an all-you-can-drink cosmopolitan bar. Some readers said the drawing was offensive. Some said it was too clever for its own good. And 99 percent of Amercia said, what's The New Yorker?

In Godless Hollywood, those liberals were at it again as thousands of Starbucks employees…

(Soundbite of laughter)

RIDLEY: I mean, actors, dithered over an on-again, off-again strike vote in hopes of bringing the country to her knees by depriving us of new episodes of "The Mentalist." But on a positive note, the Actors Guild performed the David Copperfieldian, near-impossible trick of making the Writers Guild look savvy and reasonable.

Oil speculators, remember them? It's their fault. They're the ones who ran up the price of oil to…what, about $36 a barrel? You know, those lease deals on a new Hummer are starting to look real attractive right about now.

And do you remember Hillary Clinton crying at a campaign stop? Now, she was either showing real emotion, and therefore too soft to be president, or she was being manipulative, and therefore too devious to be president. You know, poor Hillary literally could not win. But through Barack Obama's Wish Fulfillment Program, she still gets to be the one taking those 3 a.m. phone calls after all.

In my opinion, the winner of the Brett Favre-Aaron Rodgers brouhaha in Green Bay? Chad Pennington in Miami.

And the number non-troversy of 2008? Are you ready for this? How dare Jeremiah Wright say the bigoted, hurtful things in the privacy of a black church that men of God like Pat Robertson, John Hagee, and the late Jerry Falwell said in public? Barack Obama denounces Wright, comes across as a rational black man, then delivers a historic speech on race in America and ends up in the White House. I mean, the whole thing worked out so well, I have a feeling that somewhere Wright and Obama are secretly sharing a cigar, swapping one of those terrorist fist jabs Fox News warned us about, and saying to each other, we got 'em, baby. We got 'em.

You know, hard to believe so much almost important stuff just about happened this year. You know, if 2009 is anything like 2008, we can look forward to many hyperbolic moments hardly worth the cable news space they fill.

Happy New Year, everybody.

INSKEEP: Commentator John Ridley is founding editor of thatminoritything.com. His blog, Visible Man, is at npr.org.

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