Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

The 12 lessons of 2012

By Dean Obeidallah, Special to CNN
updated 12:22 PM EST, Sat December 29, 2012
Mitt Romney's "binders full of women" phrase went viral. Mitt Romney's "binders full of women" phrase went viral.
HIDE CAPTION
What we learned in 2012
What we learned in 2012
What we learned in 2012
What we learned in 2012
What we learned in 2012
What we learned in 2012
What we learned in 2012
What we learned in 2012
What we learned in 2012
What we learned in 2012
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Dean Obeidallah: You are smarter today than 365 days ago
  • Obeidallah: You probably learned a few Korean words like "Gangnam Style"
  • He says we found out poultry can be a political tool and some people talk to chairs
  • Obeidallah: The good news is that we'll soon forget the inane lessons of 2012

Editor's note: Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is a political comedian and frequent commentator on various TV networks including CNN. He is the editor of the politics blog "The Dean's Report" and co-director of the upcoming documentary, "The Muslims Are Coming!" Follow him on Twitter: @deanofcomedy

(CNN) -- You are smarter today than 365 days ago. You know more than you did at the end of 2011.

And here's the kicker, you may not even be aware of how much you learned this past year. It's analogous to how you're affected by the hit songs of boy bands. No matter how much you might try to avoid them, you can't, because these songs are everywhere. Consequently, the words are subtly drilled into your head and the next thing you know, you find yourself unconsciously singing along to the songs when they play on the radio.

So regardless if you were paying attention or not, there's a lot of new information from this past year trapped inside your brain. Here are just some of the things we collectively learned in 2012:

Dean Obeidallah
Dean Obeidallah
Become a fan of CNNOpinion
Stay up to date on the latest opinion, analysis and conversations through social media. Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion and follow us @CNNOpinion on Twitter. We welcome your ideas and comments.



1. Mitt Romney had binders full of women

During the second presidential debate, Romney shared with us that when he was governor of Massachusetts, he had binders filled with information about women he was considering hiring. (When I was a teenager, I, too, had binders full of women. But mine I hid under my bed so my mom wouldn't find them.)

2. We picked up some Korean

We're not fluent yet, but thanks to the Korean pop singer PSY and his song "Gangnam Style," we all learned a few Korean words. And because of the song's ubiquitous music video -- which broke the record as the first video to get more than 1 billion views on YouTube -- some of us even have a vague idea of how to do his famous "horse dance."

3. Women love to read "porn"

The runaway hit book, "Fifty Shades of Grey," created a sensation across the country as women -- many over 30 years old -- bought this sexually provocative book, thus coining the term "mommy porn." In contrast, most men are waiting for the movie because we are more traditional in our "porn" tastes.

4. Poultry can be a political tool

Fast food chain Chick-fil-A went from just serving chicken to serving a political message as the head of the company announced publicly that he opposed marriage equality. Consequently, ordering a chicken sandwich at this chain came with a side dish of right-wing politics.

5. Some people talk to chairs

Clint Eastwood taught us at this year's Republican National Convention that you can have a full conversation on national television with your furniture. Hey, Clint made it OK for you to have a conversation with your couch or end table.

6. "James Bond" met the "The Real Housewives"

CIA Director David Petraeus resigned from his job because his extramarital affair was discovered. This is especially shocking because Petraeus' job as the nation's top spy chief was to keep secrets.

7. Cliffs are not just in nature

As we get closer to a precipitous "fiscal cliff" -- a term more overexposed than "Gangnam Style," it seems -- we have all learned that Congress has truly earned its low approval rating -- any lower and certain infectious diseases may become more popular than Congress.

8. What's the big deal with silver?

U.S. Olympian McKayla Maroney made it clear at the London Olympics that she was not impressed by winning the silver medal with her famous "I'm not impressed" face.

9. The way to reduce gun violence is more guns

At least this is what we were told by NRA's Vice President Wayne LaPierre in December as he called for armed guards to be placed in each of the roughly 100,000 public schools in the country.

10. Reality stars are not just for dysfunctional adults

Child star Alana "Honey Boo Boo" Thompson proved that children can be just as self-absorbed and horribly demanding as adult reality show stars.

11. Calendars are not always reliable

The fact you're reading this means that the Mayan apocalypse did not come to pass. That's good news. The bad news is that I now have to pay late fees on the credit cards I didn't pay because I thought there was a chance the Mayans were right.

12. America is the best democracy money can buy

This year's presidential election saw roughly $2 billion spent by the two campaigns and their supporters. That's more than the annual GDP of numerous countries.

You probably recalled more of these things than you guessed you would. While old acquaintances should not be forgot, the good news is that we will likely soon forget the details of the more inane lessons of 2012. Of course, the bad news is that they may be replaced by even more ridiculous ones in 2013.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Dean Obeidallah.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 3:50 PM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Julian Zelizer says it's not crazy to think Mitt Romney would be able to end up at the top of the GOP ticket in 2016.
updated 4:52 PM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Roxanne Jones and her girlfriends would cheer from the sidelines for the boys playing Little League. But they really wanted to play. Now Mo'ne Davis shows the world that girls really can throw.
updated 12:29 PM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Peter Bergen and Emily Schneider say a YouTube video apparently posted by ISIS seems to show that the group has a surveillance drone, highlighting a new reality: Terrorist groups have technology once only used by states
updated 5:04 PM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Kimberly Norwood is a black mom who lives in an affluent neighborhood not far from Ferguson, but she has the same fears for her children as people in that troubled town do
updated 5:45 PM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
It apparently has worked for France, say Peter Bergen and Emily Schneider, but carries uncomfortable risks. When it comes to kidnappings, nations face grim options.
updated 1:27 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
John Bare says the Ice Bucket Challenge signals a new kind of activism and peer-to-peer fund-raising.
updated 8:31 AM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
James Dawes says calling ISIS evil over and over again could very well make it harder to stop them.
updated 9:05 PM EDT, Sat August 23, 2014
As the inquiry into the shooting of Michael Brown continues, critics question the prosecutor's impartiality.
updated 6:47 PM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
Newt Gingrich says it's troubling that a vicious group like ISIS can recruit so many young men from Britain.
updated 10:50 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
David Weinberger says Twitter and other social networks have been vested with a responsibility, and a trust, they did not ask for.
updated 7:03 AM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
John Inazu says the slogan "We are Ferguson" is meant to express empathy and solidarity. It's not true: Not all of us live in those circumstances. But we all made them.
updated 8:23 AM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
Retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling says he learned that the territory ISIS wants to control is amazingly complex.
updated 3:51 PM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Cerue Garlo says Liberia is desperate for help amid a Ebola outbreak that has touched every aspect of life.
updated 1:42 PM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
Eric Liu says Republicans who want to restrict voting may win now, but the party will suffer in the long term.
updated 11:38 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
Jay Parini: Jesus, Pope and now researchers agree: Wealth decreases our ability to sympathize with the poor.
updated 8:00 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
Judy Melinek offers a medical examiner's perspective on what happens when police kill people like Michael Brown.
updated 6:03 PM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
It used to be billy clubs, fire hoses and snarling German shepherds. Now it's armored personnel carriers and flash-bang grenades, writes Kara Dansky.
updated 1:27 PM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Maria Haberfeld: People who are unfamiliar with police work can reasonably ask, why was an unarmed man shot so many times, and why was deadly force used at all?
updated 5:52 PM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
Ruben Navarrette notes that this fall, minority students will outnumber white students at America's public schools.
updated 5:21 PM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
Humans have driven to extinction four marine mammal species in modern times. As you read this, we are on the brink of losing the fifth, write three experts.
updated 4:06 PM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
Pepper Schwartz asks why young women are so entranced with Kardashian, who's putting together a 352-page book of selfies
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT