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The Times' 2012 list of the naughty and the nice

As we reflect on 2012, we too have thoughts about who should look forward to a cheerful holiday morning and who deserves a lump of coal.

December 25, 2012
  • The Times editorial board puts Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., top left, and Fox anchor Anchor Megyn Kelly, top right, on its "nice" list. On the "naughty" list, among others: David H. Petraeus' biographer Paula Broadwell, bottom left, and "Hobbit" director Peter Jackson, bottom right.
The Times editorial board puts Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., top left,… (Pablo Martinez Monsivais,…)

Santa's not the only one who makes lists. As we reflect on 2012, we too have thoughts about who should look forward to a cheerful holiday morning and who deserves a lump of coal. Below, The Times' reflections on who's been naughty and who's been nice. Merry Christmas!

NICE

Duncan Hosie, a gay freshman at Princeton University, was more than nice. He was brave and decent. Hosie offered Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia a lesson in civility when he respectfully questioned the justice about his inflammatory comments comparing homosexuality to bigamy, incest and bestiality.

Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck made us proud with his decision to limit the department's participation in Secure Communities, a controversial federal immigration enforcement program. The chief's decision means police will continue to hand over to federal authorities those immigrants with serious criminal records but not those arrested for minor offenses.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. surprised us with a remarkable act of intelligence and bravery when he exercised judicial restraint by voting to uphold the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

It's easy to pick on the Legislature and the Los Angeles City Council, but both deserve some credit for real efforts to address costly public worker pensions. Reform advocates didn't get as much as they sought, but even labor-friendly Democrats showed a refreshing willingness to rein in abuses and limit future liabilities.

Fox News is not usually high on our "nice" list, but this year it opted for journalism over politics on election night. It was among the first outlets to call the election for Obama, and stood by its decision when Republican strategist Karl Rove said it was too early to call Ohio and, with it, the election. Anchor Megyn Kelly memorably asked: "Is this just math that you do as a Republican to make yourself feel better?" It can't be easy to challenge Rove on Fox, but Kelly did it admirably.

Pope Benedict XVI, a traditionalist pope, recognized that his "new evangelization" required engaging 21st century communication tools. The pope opened a Twitter account under the handle @Pontifex, an allusion to "pontifex maximus," a title originally conferred on pagan priests in ancient Rome but applied for centuries to the bishop of Rome.

California voters don't always make the right decisions, but this year they passed Proposition 30, which provides money for public schools and community colleges and prevented draconian cuts to the California State University and the University of California systems. Voters also tempered the state's "three-strikes" sentencing scheme and gave President Obama a 2-million-vote victory margin, nearly half of his margin nationally.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton proved to be a savvy and successful stateswoman in turbulent international times. She leaves office more politically popular than ever, and we expect to be hearing more from her soon.

The new owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers deserve some credit too. The team struggled down the stretch, but the owners kept a promise to spend on players and now have a payroll roughly double the size of that under former owner Frank McCourt. Money doesn't always add up to success in baseball, but we hope it will add up to more fans in the seats and a more entertaining team.

NAUGHTY

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) was naughty — and cynical. Apparently worried about offending creationists, he gave this answer when asked by a reporter how old the Earth is: "I'm not a scientist. I don't think I'm qualified to answer a question like that. At the end of the day, I think there are multiple theories out there on how the universe was created, and I think this is a country where people should have the opportunity to teach them all." After he was widely ridiculed, Rubio acknowledged that "it's at least 4.5 billion years old."

Republicans in the U.S. Senate suggested that U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice deliberately misled the nation about the September attack on a diplomatic installation in Libya that killed four Americans, including a U.S. ambassador. Rice's suggestion that the attack stemmed from a spontaneous demonstration against an anti-Muslim video was incorrect, but she was conveying a preliminary assessment based on "talking points" drawn up by the intelligence community. This manufactured scandal figured in her decision to withdraw from consideration as secretary of State.

The California State University trustees and the University of California regents actually considered imposing new fee hikes just after voters passed Proposition 30, which saved the two university systems from dire cuts. Fortunately, intervention from Gov. Jerry Brown staved off the increases, at least for now.

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