It’s time to name 2015’s biggest losers. Not surprisingly, this list is always much longer than the "winners," and, truth be told, a lot more fun:
• Bill Cosby: Sure, he’s innocent until proven guilty. But one verdict is already in: Cosby is truly one of Hollywood’s most smug, arrogant and despicable stars – and that’s really saying something in Tinseltown. However, while his star will continue to fall, and with it his storied career, Cosby will more than likely be a "winner" when his trial in Montgomery County is said and done. His case was the centerpiece of newly-elected District Attorney Kevin Steele’s campaign, which will draw not-without-some-merit "politically motivated" arguments from the defense. Throw in the fact that successfully prosecuting a 12-year-old case is extremely difficult in the best of circumstances, and Cosby’s chances for an acquittal are high.
But that won’t make him any less of a creep. Too bad Dr. Huxtable was only a TV character.
• Charlie Sheen: Just because.
• Philadelphia Eagles and owner Jeff Lurie: The NFL wanted parity, but it got mediocrity, as 19 of its 32 teams finished the season at .500 or below. Yes, the Eagles were one of them, which is especially disappointing given the legitimately high pre-season hopes for the team. And why were expectations high? Because now-fired coach Chip Kelly had turned around Andy Reid’s disastrous 4-12 showing in 2012 by compiling consecutive 10-6 seasons, including a division title. Kelly pushed for and received control over player personnel at the beginning of 2015, so undeniably, many of this team’s shortcomings landed on his shoulders. But fair is fair: Kelly shouldn’t be held responsible for many of the bush-league mistakes his players made, from blown coverages to a seemingly unprecedented number of dropped passes. If those errors aren’t made, resulting in the Eagles winning just one or two of their close games, then Kelly would be entering playoffs with a team capable of big surprises. Instead, he was booted by an ungrateful owner.
It was Lurie who gave Kelly his power, and he should have allowed the coach at least one more year to fine-tune his system. If at that point the Iggles fell short, fine – "Chip’s Ahoy," to quote the Daily Times headline. But given Kelly’s significant success in just two seasons – especially in light of how long Reid was allowed to hang around despite never winning The Big One – Chip deserved another shot.
You fumbled, Jeff. Now, watch for the Eagles to be mired in mediocrity for the foreseeable future.
• The personal touch: No one wants to stand in the way of progress, but there’s a fine line between convenience and laziness. Take Christmastime. Not long ago, people spent many frustrating, but eminently worthwhile, hours going "Clark Griswold" with outside decorations and penning short notes on their Christmas cards.
Now? They are remnants of a bygone age, casualties of our aversion to anything that takes effort. First, we had the way-too-easy icicle lights (which look nothing like icicles) that took mere minutes to hang. Then net lights came along, which involved nothing more than heaving a few sets haphazardly over some bushes. And now, lasers, the point of which still eludes, as they are just a bunch of spots in the trees and have nothing remotely to do with the holiday season. But shove them into the ground, flip the switch, and – voila! Back to Reality TV in less than two minutes!
And a handwritten note on cards, or God forbid, people actually signing them? No surprise, since we can’t even talk to each other at the dinner table or coffee shop because our heads are buried in phones, breathlessly following every one of Caitlyn Jenner’s updates. The personal touch seems gone forever, and with it much of our humanity.
• "Star Wars:" To quote C3PO, "Oh dear!" With an unlimited budget and unprecedented fan base, there was no excuse for "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" to be anything but stellar. But Harrison Ford’s performance notwithstanding, it’s a boring re-telling of the first film, which succeeds only in blasting the film into the orbit of mediocrity. A new hope will be for the directors to awaken and use some good old-fashioned creativity to make high-caliber films worthy of the "Star Wars" name. And may the force be with them – please!
• Carly Fiorina: Here was one of the few promising Republican candidates, a successful businesswoman with presidential gravitas who was positioning herself to be the year’s big surprise. Yet she abandoned all good sense – and shattered her credibility – by pandering to the Iowa caucus vote. No, it wasn’t flipping on ethanol subsidies or a farming issue. It was worse – she disavowed her alma mater Stanford, and publicly rooted for the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Rose Bowl.
In doing so, she got the worst of all worlds: infuriating Stanford alumni – many of whom have big bucks – and gaining nothing but contempt from Iowans for her naked political calculation. It also gave pause to many GOP undecideds who now view Fiorina as just another pol who will say anything to win, and who compounded the situation by claiming it was a joke, when everyone knows it wasn’t.
People may not understand deficits or trade agreements, but they intuitively know when someone lacks sincerity, and it’s often a deal-killer. Some will laugh off such criticism as irrelevant, but it’s often the little things that have the biggest impact. And if that’s the case, the joke’s on Fiorina.
And by the way, Carly, here’s something to stick in your ear (of corn): If you’re going to pathetically pander for a team, you better be damn sure they don’t get humiliated, as Iowa did, 45-16. Ouch.
• Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf: You call yourself the "education governor," yet it took six months to release funding for our schools, including aid to the non-publics for much-needed textbooks? Shame on you, Guv. You almost make Tom Corbett look good. Almost.
• Donald Trump: Sure, he also made the "Winners" list for his unique ability to change the political landscape. But had he exhibited even a modicum of restraint by not insulting damn near everyone, he could have been a viable contender. America needs a businessman to shake up the failing status quo, and Trump could have been that guy. But instead, he valued making a mockery of the process – and his issues – over being a serious candidate. As a result, voters are about to send Trump a familiar message: "You’re fired."
Chris Freind is an independent columnist and commentator. His column appears every Friday. He can be reached at [email protected]