The Best and Worst of Everything, and other points worth making: The First Edition
Share this Article: Twitter Facebook Republish Print
YouTube Video

Published: 19-Jan-2021
Commentary by Patrick B. McGuigan 

Subject to revision, from your humble servant: 
Before I get ‘canceled’ or deathly ill or incapacitated, or my words become inaccessible to your eyes, here is a first edition – a shared first draft – of the best and worst of everything according to … me. This includes observations about misunderstood or underappreciated persons or events in our shared history.  I have restrained myself, somewhat, in listing the worst, to allow further reflection as time goes by. 

As new federal officials prepare for executive and legislative power in America, this ‘best and worst’ list has categories to reflect my personal understanding, informed by a lifetime of reflection and action, of partisan and philosophical diversity. 
This is broader than a mere “best and worst” listing of annual “top 10 stories” as I have shared in most recent years. There are some nuances here, I hope serving as an outline of one man’s life and times. 
This listing does not consistently follow strict rules of punctuation (a period to end sentences).
I beg your understanding that, like the late William F. Buckley, Jr., I am “a conservative in all things, save my choice of friends.” Hopefully, there will be more to come. Remember the teaching of the late Leland Gourley: An editorial or commentary is just one person’s opinion. (Hopefully informed.) 

The World (of recent centuries)

The worst world government: The communist-fascist regime running the Peoples Republic of China 
Most Favored Nation outside the U.S.: Republic of China (on Taiwan) 
Second most favored nation outside the U.S.: Israel
Most important friendship in modern history: John Paul II and Ronald Reagan (also in ‘America’ category)
Greatest Writer of the modern era: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Greatest U.S. Writer of the Twentieth Century, among the world’s greatest: Ralph Ellison
Best underappreciated American Novel: ‘Joan of Arc,’ by Mark Twain
Greatest American Jewish leader of the modern era: Rabbi Menachem Schneerson, the Rebbe. 
Worst recent erosion of political liberty and suppression of human creativity: India's suppression of Kashmir's autonomy 
Best popes of my lifetime: John XXIII, John Paul II, Benedict XVI
Greatest saint of my lifetime: Teresa of Calcutta 
Best non-American leaders in my lifetime: Margaret Thatcher of Great Britain, Menachem Begin of Israel, Lee Teng-hui of Taiwan
Runners-up, best non-American leaders in my lifetime: Lech Walesa of Poland, Nelson Mandela of South Africa
Best instrument for human government yet devised: The U.S. Constitution
Best U.S. Constitutional Amendment: The First, including protections for “the press” 

America in ‘the best of times, and the worst of times’ 

Best Year: 1776
Worst Year: 1619
Darn good years: 1981-1993 
Awful Year: 2020, specifically including COVID-19 and the health and cultural devastation it brought. 
Worst day in recent American history: January 6, 2021

Least Honored Personal Liberty of the Modern Era: The right to be different, and to think for yourself.

Underappreciated significant moment in U.S. History: Teddy Roosevelt’s meetings with Booker T. Washington 

Best U.S. President Since George Washington: Ronald Reagan
Best Supreme Court nominee in modern history: Robert H. Bork
Best personal U.S. Supreme Court memory: Watching Antonin Scalia help William Brennan walk up the steps for Ash Wednesday Mass
Best Underappreciated U.S. Supreme Court Justice: Joseph Story
Second Best Underappreciated U.S. Supreme Court Justice: William Howard Taft
U.S. President who got the rawest deal ever when he sought reelection: William Howard Taft 
Best Democratic appointee to U.S. Supreme Court in the modern era: Byron White
Best unsuccessful Republican presidential candidate in my lifetime: Pete du Pont 

Best Journalist of the American pre-Revolution Era: Benjamin Franklin
Greatest Founding Father: James Madison
Best American Journalists of the Twentieth Century: David Broder, Robert Novak

Best current U.S. Supreme Court Justice: Clarence Thomas 
Best U.S. Vice President in my lifetime: Mike Pence
Most Underappreciated Vice President in my lifetime: Dan Quayle
Best U.S. Attorneys General in my lifetime: Edwin Meese III, William Barr
Honorable Mention for best modern Attorney General: Richard Thornburgh 

Best single Donald Trump Decision: Nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court
Worst Donald Trump Decisions before January 2021: Rhetoric and Policies on Immigration. 

Best Trump Cabinet Member: Betsy DeVos 
Best U.S. and Oklahoma public policy trend of the last decade: School Choice

Most redeeming features of the American politician known as Joe Biden: Past support for both Israel and Taiwan, and some of his personnel choices while serving in the U.S. Senate.
Least redeeming features of the American politician known as Joe Biden: Abandonment of his early moderate temperament and policy inclinations. Other than that, don’t get me started. …  

Best Democratic politicians of my lifetime: Robert Casey, Sr., Paul Tsongas, Paul Simon, Tulsi Gabbard

Best U.S. Civil Rights Leaders: Frederick A. Douglass, Booker T. Washington, Martin Luther King, Jr.
Most underappreciated U.S. Civil Rights Leaders: Ralph Abernathy, Clarence M. Pendleton, Jr., Professor William Allen
Most important American Black leader I wish had known: Malcolm X

Best American film-maker: Frank Capra
Best contemporary American film star: Denzel Washington

Best Journalist of the American pre-Revolutionary Era: Benjamin Franklin
Best American journalists of the Twentieth Century: David Broder, Robert Novak, William F. Buckley, Jr., Robert Sengstacke Abbott 
Best American Newspaper Columnist of this era: Cal Thomas
Second best American Newspaper Columnist of this era: Peggy Noonan
Third Best American Newspaper Columnist of this era: Star Parker  
Best American news and information source today: National Review
Best American liberal or ‘Progressive’ journal of opinion, for many decades: The Nation Magazine  
Best friend in journalism I will never forget: Russell Perry

America’s Worst “News Media” Institution: Columbia Journalism Review 
Most disappointing but expected mainstream news management decision of 2020: The New York Times’ firing of “op-ed” editor Bari Weiss 

Best Democratic U.S. President: Grover Cleveland
Best Democratic U.S. President since Cleveland: John F. Kennedy
Best Democratic U.S. President between Cleveland and Kennedy: Harry S. Truman
Best underappreciated Democratic president: James K. Polk 
Best underappreciated U.S. Republican president: Gerald Ford 
Worst Democratic U.S. President since James Buchanan: Bill Clinton

Worst President in U.S. History: James Buchanan
Second worst President in U.S. History: Andrew Jackson 
Worst presidential decision of the Nineteenth Century: Jackson refusing to honor U.S. Supreme Court decisions impacting Indian Country
Most important friendship in modern history: John Paul II and Ronald Reagan (also in world category)
Best Reagan Administration Official: Clarence M. Pendleton, U.S. Civil Rights Commission 
Best Clinton Administration Official: Jane Alexander, National Endowment for the Arts 

The two places in Washington, D.C. I miss the most: The National Press Club, and the Monocle Restaurant
Best intern from my D.C. years: David Baloga
Best friend from the D.C. years I still get to see and talk to occasionally: Brenda Jones Barwick  

Most tragic conflict in U.S. History: The Civil War
Best presidential address of all time: Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg
Second best presidential address of all time: Ronald Reagan’s farewell address
Worst judicial decision of the 1970s: Roe v. Wade
Worst judicial decision pre-Civil War: Dred Scott v. Sanford
Worst FDR policy: Internment of Japanese-Americans 
Best judicial dissent in American History: Justice John Marshall Harlan in the Plessy v. Ferguson case 
Most disappointing U.S. Supreme Court justice, but a good and decent human being: David Souter
Most impressive and appreciated journalistic comments of the past year: Glenn Greenwald and other reporters who defend the New York Post’s news stories and commentaries last fall
Most distressing economic development of last several decades other than COVID-19: Collapse of the business model for American newspapers
Most depressing and accelerating trends in American Higher Education: Suppression of conservative and libertarian voices for human liberty and dignity, ‘cancel culture’ mindset 

Oklahoma and its capital city 

Best Oklahoma Governor: Dewey Bartlett
Best Oklahoma Democratic Governor: Raymond Gary
Most gentlemanly Oklahoma Governor: Brad Henry
Best one-time co-teacher I ever worked with: Kim Henry
Best co-teacher I ever worked with: Bradi Bullard Brown
Best boss I ever had in education: Dr. Dan Selakovich, Oklahoma State University
Best current Oklahoma Supreme Court member: Justice Matthew John Kane 
Best past Oklahoma Supreme Court member: Chief Justice Matthew John Kane
Best Oklahoma statewide elected official in the modern era: Commissioner of Labor Brenda Reneau 
Best high school friend who became a legal ‘player’ in state, national and world events: Vicki Miles
Best Oklahoma Rabbi: Ovadia Goldman
Best contemporary Oklahoma Jewish leader: Edie Roodman
Best Oklahoma physician with whom I sometimes disagree politically: Eli Reshef
Best annual event I miss the most: The Oklahoma City Gridiron Shows
Best gig in journalism for which I was not paid: News9 Capitol Reports for eight years
Best Oklahoma Roman Catholic Priest in My Life: John A. McMenamin
Best Oklahoma Speaker of the House: Kris Steele

Best Teachers I ever had: Sisters of Mercy (John Carroll School) Sister Margaret Landis (McGuinness High School), Odie B. Faulk (Oklahoma State University) 
Most Important legal decision in Oklahoma History: McGirt vs. Oklahoma 
Worst Moment in Oklahoma History: Tulsa Race Riot/Massacre (there are other possible choices)
Worst Constitution Changes in Oklahoma state history: Reversing the Teddy Roosevelt provisions of 1907 to establish “Jim Crow” in state constitutional and statutory provisions

Best Christmas Parties: Robert A. Henry
Fondest non-family memory: Singing with Antonin Scalia at the home of Robert and Jan Henry
Second place – Fondest non-family memory: Trip to Israel 
Third place -- Fondest non-family memory: Five years as volunteer and annual ‘guest principal’ at Martin Luther King Elementary

Best Oklahoma Museum Administrator and Leader: Bob Blackburn 
Best Contemporary Oklahoma Historian: John J. Dwyer, Red River Press 
Best Oklahoma City Neighborhood: Crown Heights
Second Best Oklahoma City Neighorhood: Asian District
Most essential yet aggravating Oklahoma legal entity: Oklahoma ACLU
Best Oklahoma ‘think tank’ – Oklahoma Council of Public Policy 
Best Oklahoma public policy leader: Jonathan Small, OCPA
Best friend who helped me stay in journalism: David Arnett
Best Editor I ever had: Brandon Dutcher
Favorite persistent online critic of my current work in journalism: C.W. Tracy
Favorite online fan of my current work in journalism: Jeanne PaulsonYoung Boozer
Unexpected blessing during my years at the state Capitol: Getting to know Frosty Troy well enough to have coffee and conversation in the morning without calling each other names.
Legal Eagle I miss the most: Her Honor, Oklahoma Surpeme Court Justice Yvonne Kauger
Best friend ever on the Oklahoma Supreme Court: Marian P. Opala
Best Oklahoma law school: Oklahoma City University

Best Church: Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help
Best Church Memory: Coaching soccer for eight years at Bishop John Carroll School
Best Contemporary Oklahoma Journalist and Historian: Steve Byas
Best Oklahoma journalist on the ‘Progressive’ liberal end of things: Arnold Hamilton
Best Oklahoma newspaper: The Oklahoman under Ed Kelley’s leadership
Best Oklahoma Radio Journalist: Billie A. Rodely
Best Oklahoma Television Journalist: Alex Cameron

Best Boss I ever had: Edward L. Gaylord
Next Best Boss I ever had: Connaught “Coyne” Marshner (actually during my D.C. days) 
Best current local reporter: Steve Lackmeyer
Best current local liberal reporter: Darla Shelden, The City Sentinel  
Best former editor of The City Sentinel newspaper: Stacy Martin
Best former Internet director for CapitolBeatOK: Joni Menton 
Best former advertising director, The City Sentinel: Robin Dorner 
Best Liberal Oklahoma Journalist 'back in the day': Edith Kinney Gaylord

Best Oklahoma City Mayor: Patience Latting 
Best Oklahoma political campaigns: Mickey Edwards 1974, 1976
Best Oklahoma statewide elected official: Brenda Reneau
Best Oklahoma Legislators: Vicki Miles, Jason Nelson, George A. Young, A.C. Hamlin, David Dank
Best current liberal Oklahoma legislators: Mickey Dollens, Kay Floyd
Best Oklahoma Civil Rights Leaders: Clara Luper, Hannah Atkins, Robert Ruiz
Best Oklahomans now in Congress: James Lankford, Stephanie Bice, Kevin Hern
Best current Oklahoma legislative leader: Greg Treat 
Worst Oklahoma Legislators now and in the past: Don’t get me started
Most Important Unsolved Mystery: Contents of the 2019 OU Board of Regents investigative report

Worst Oklahoma Status Quo: Over-incarceration
Second worst Oklahoma status quo: Lack of accountability and fiscal mismanagement in Oklahoma Higher Education
Most overdue Oklahoma public policy reform: Abolition of the Death Penalty
Second most overdue Oklahoma public policy reform: Criminal Justice Reform
Best McGuigan gubernatorial endorsement in recent election cycles: Joe Dorman in 2014. 

Best Oklahoma Cultural Organization: Paseo Arts Association
Best local Art Gallery: Paseo Gallery One, Susan Cromer Yback (and David) 
Best Friend on the Paseo: Lorrie Keller, Theatre Upon a Star Dance Swan
Best local Arts Administrator: Amanda Bleakley 

Best regular contributors to The City Sentinel newspaper: Nyla Ali Khan, Steve Fair, Joe Dorman, Jack Werner


Best wine: Grenache
Best Books: Bible, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's works, especially ‘One Day in the Life,’ William B. Buckley’s books (most of them), Allen Drury’s Novels, The Chronicles of Cadfael, and classic (pre-1970s) Science Fiction. 
Best wine company: McGuigan (Australia) 
Best Oklahoma City Restaurant: Golden Palace
Best restaurant I have missed the most in the last year: Golden Palace.

God’s greatest gift: Jesus, Love, and Salvation
Greatest Jewish Philosopher ever outside the Bible: Moses Maimonides 
Greatest Christian Philosopher Ever outside the Bible: St. Thomas Aquinas

Most precious people: My wife and my family, including the in-laws (and out-laws – teasing). 
Best. Job. Ever: Grandfather of 10
Next. Best. Job. Ever: Father of Four
A Legacy beyond words: The example of my parents, Bonnie and Bruce. The companionship while growing up of my four sisters. The model of good priests, rabbis and other ministers through every year of my life.    

Most deeply appreciated: Tolerant and intelligent readers. 
My best and fondest hope: The liberty to revise and expand this, and continue to report and comment upon human events, as time goes by. 

Note: A member of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, Pat McGuigan is founder of, an online news organization, and publisher/editor of The City Sentinel, an independent, non-partisan and locally-owned newspaper in Oklahoma City. 

sign up for email updates

Steal Our Stuff