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Opinion: Wrong things I wrote this year

By John David Dyche 

A reader recently reminded me that I had predicted that Democrat Jean-Marie Lawson Spann would win this year’s race for agriculture commissioner.  She didn’t.

Republican Ryan Quarles won, rather easily, and has a bright political future.  I was happy to miss this one.

It was by no means the only thing I got wrong in the past year’s hundred columns.  Here is a look back at some of my other errors.

Last December, as a Christmas gift to liberal readers, I tried to make the best possible case for President Barack Obama.  It was unconvincing then, and is even less so now.

A year ago I wrote, “With his personal fortune and relatively high name recognition from his recent Senate bid, [Matt] Bevin could really scramble the [governor] race.”  Bevin ended up doing a lot more than that.

I got the Supreme Court exactly backwards by predicting it would gut Obamacare, but uphold Kentucky’s traditional marriage regime.  Being at odds with the court on those cases is not the same thing as being wrong, however.

Last January, I suggested keeping an eye on Ohio Governor John Kasich.  You can take it off him now, although he is still an intriguing vice-presidential prospect from that critical electoral state.

In February, I wrote that Kentucky Democrats Adam Edelen and Greg Fischer looked like the most likely opponents for Rand Paul in the 2016 U.S. Senate race.  That now looks wrong, though, since Edelen recently lost for reelection as state auditor and Fischer seems sensibly reluctant to sign up for a political suicide mission.

In April, I picked the horse Far Right over American Pharoah in the Arkansas Derby.  In a May comparison of politicians to Derby horses, I paired Paul with American Pharoah.  Doing so was a daily double dose of dumb.

Also in May, I said that “barring a big move Bevin looks more like a spoiler than a credible contender” in the governor race.  At least I left myself some wiggle room on that one.

In June, I wrote that Paul’s libertarian positions on national security issues could convince Kentucky Republicans that he ought to have a primary opponent.  No mainstream GOP foe has emerged.

A summer column written after the Charleston, South Carolina church shootings called for removing the Jefferson Davis statue from the state Capitol rotunda.  The rebel icon stands there still, and perhaps it always will.

My first mention of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump came in July.  I called him an “obnoxious clown” in a “circus sideshow,” obviously forgetting how much people like circuses and clowns.

My next column called Trump a “bombastic boor” and said it was “a sad situation” if he “truly appeals to a sizable segment of the GOP base.”  I added, “Republicans will overcome Trump,” which looks less and less likely with each passing day.

After the Oregon shooting rampage in October, I wrote about gun violence … again.  I should have realized that doing so was a waste of time, though, since so many Americans seem to think there is no problem, or that there is nothing that can be done about it, or that the only thing that can be done is to arm everybody or change people’s souls.

When a local newspaper did a pre-election Bevin profile I sarcastically said his administration “would be like [Ernie] Fletcher’s without the experience and maturity.”  A clever quip, perhaps, but his solid appointments so far have proved me quite wrong.

I was right about a few things, too.  Unfortunately, considerations of modesty and limitations of space prevent reviewing those rare and triumphant occasions here.  Some cynics might say something about blind hogs and acorns.

Two of my best-received columns did not even deal with politics.  One was a thank you to the much maligned Jefferson County Public Schools after my third and last child graduated from high school.  The other was called, “The view from an empty nest,” written after her mother and I returned home after taking her to college.  Maybe I should do less politics and more human interest.

It is a great blessing to have a platform for one’s opinions.  It is an even greater blessing to have people who read them.  Together, those blessings impose a big responsibility.

Contrary to what many think, my primary purpose is not to persuade.  That objective comes well after some more important ones: to educate; to stimulate; and to entertain.

As this retrospective makes painfully clear, I frequently fall short of the lofty goals of this column-writing enterprise.  For that I am sorry.  For your interest and understanding I am very grateful.
John David Dyche is a Louisville attorney and a political commentator for WDRB.com.