This weekend marked the end of 2005.
I'm on the road heading back to the Big Apple from my annual visit to the in-laws in St. Louis — so I'm reprinting last Thursday's column. If you already read it, feel free to Grrr!
As we look forward to another year of Grrrs, there is one major Grrr! I wish would never rear its ugly head again (but I know I'm reaching): the politicization of nearly everything under the sun.
The "war on Christmas" became a liberal vs. conservative war, a Democrat vs. Republican debate.
What a bunch of hogwash. What, do all conservative-minded Americans necessarily practice the Christian faith? There are no Jewish conservatives or atheist conservatives or Muslim conservatives? Do no liberals worship Christ? There is not one Christmas tree among them? Are all liberals secularists? Please, people.
But that was just the latest example of how ridiculous we've become in our collective us-vs.-them attitude. At a time when the holidays are supposed to unite us, we're looking for even more ways to polarize our nation.
In my last column I Grrr!'d Victoria's Secret for making a bra worth some $12.5 million, quoting Giselle Bundchen's remark about how that money could feed a country. One reader responded by asking how many countries the Bush Administration could feed with what the War on Terror costs.
Huh? How do you equate the cost of a diamond-encrusted bra that no woman in her right mind would wear to the cost of fighting a war against terrorists who attacked our country?
It's just somebody looking for anything to politicize.
In response to that same column, I was chastised via e-mail with accusations like "Liberals and African Americans on your list: poor form" and "Come on, who do you work for, CNN, you liberal piece of garbage?"
You see? In a column where actors and a few athletes made my "Oblivions of 2005" roundup, someone goes and puts social labels on them (at least my label is made up). Because I include a well-known Republican (Scooter Libby), I'm a "liberal piece of garbage."
Perhaps I should write a column about my favorite flavor of ice cream and see which side of the aisle sends me the most hate mail.
I can picture it now: "It's no wonder you like vanilla ice cream because George Bush doesn't care about black people," or "Of course you like vanilla ice cream, because you're soft. I bet you liked "Brokeback Mountain" too and support gay marriage, you liberal piece of garbage."
You probably think I'm kidding. I'm not.
Far too many of us in this country are going to extreme lengths to find something to disagree about politically.
But it's not all in the imagination of the everyday American. Try reading a (seemingly apolitical) movie review in The New York Times if you're a conservative; I'll bet you can't get through the whole article before throwing it away in anger. Try watching "The O'Reilly Factor" if you're a liberal, and you'll be reaching for the remote before Bill's "Talking Points" memo is over.
We're living in a political maelstrom. There's a "perfect storm" brewing, and if we choose to continue sailing these seas, we're going to be in for a longer, rougher voyage than the one we've already embarked on.
Here's hoping that everybody, not just conservatives, not just liberals, but EVERYBODY, has a great New Year. Let's celebrate together and then work together on all fronts, remembering that we're all Americans — not Republican Americans — not Democrat Americans.
In China it's the Year of the Dog. Let's make 2006 the Year of Unity for our great nation.
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