Welcome to Declassified, a weekly column looking at the lighter side of politics.
This is the last Declassified of 2021. See you in 2022, which will either be better or much, much worse.
Whatâ€™s the best way to navigate a pandemic? Try and pretend itâ€™s not happening, it appears.
This week a survey of the worldâ€™s most admired people had podcaster Barack Obama in first place for men, and the star of Netflix childrenâ€™s series â€œWaffles + Mochiâ€ â€” Michelle Obama â€” in the top slot for women (both also topped the same poll in 2020).
Older readers may remember the time the Obamas spent in the White House a lifetime ago (or so it feels).
Sadly for Europeâ€™s political leaders, none of them made the list (although Angela Merkel â€”Â who finished 8th â€”Â was still German chancellor when the polling was conducted, just not when the results were released). The lists only contain 20 names, so maybe weâ€™ll never know if Charles Michel was just a few votes away from making the cut or if Ursula von der Leyen was oh so close to displacing New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern or Chinese actress Yang Mi and getting onto the list.
However, EU nemesis Vladimir Putin â€”Â whose sending of troops to the border with Ukraine was on the agenda of not one but two top-level meetings this week â€”Â came in at number nine and world nemesis Donald Trump finished 13th.
If ever there was an illustration that we live in strange times, itâ€™s that in 6th place on the menâ€™s list was Elon Musk, who was also this week named Time magazineâ€™s person of the year. Thatâ€™s right, a man who once live-tweeted himself taking a shit was deemed the most important person of the year.
But if not Musk, then who should have been named person of the year? Dolly Parton surely has to be a contender. All doctors and nurses? Everyone who worked on coronavirus vaccines?
There has to be a controversial choice on any list, so how about the Italian man who wanted to get his COVID pass but didnâ€™t want the vaccine, so turned up for his jab wearing a fake arm! Or perhaps the American air passenger who staff believe was breastfeeding her cat on a flight! Or whoever took part in Boris Johnsonâ€™s lockdown-busting quiz and decided to name their team Prof. Quiz Whitty!
A big round of applause for 2021, everybody!
â€œTwo cops: oneâ€™s idealistic, the otherâ€™s a rule-breaker. Coming soon to Netflix â€¦ Manu and Vik.â€
Last week we gave you this photo:
Thanks for all the entries. Hereâ€™s the best from our postbag (thereâ€™s no prize except for the gift of laughter, which I think we can all agree is far more valuable than cash or booze).
â€œA big hand for the new chancellor,â€ by Tom Morgan.
Paul Dallison isÂ POLITICOâ€˜s slot news editor.