2005 failure: Saddam Hussein gets a trial in which he’s allowed to interrupt, scream and show up whenever he feels like it. Michael Jackson and Robert Blake went free, and Martha Stewart stepped out of prison and into a multimillion-dollar TV deal. What we can learn for 2006: If you’re going to murder, abuse or use inside stock information, make sure your name is a name. The news media 2005 failure: Judith Miller (The New York Times) and Bob Woodward (The Washington Post) failed to report what they knew when they knew it in the Valerie Plame story. The New York Times kept quiet for a year before spilling the National Security Agency spy story. And although he did not qualify for a congressional press pass, “reporter” Jeff Gannon was given daily passes to White House press briefings and was revealed to be a gay escort-for-hire. What can we learn for 2006: If you write, write. If you don’t write, don’t write about it later. Write doesn’t make right and not writing can make it even less right. 2005 failure: Talk-show host Armstrong Williams took government payola to push administration policy. Doug Bandow (Cato Institute) and Peter Ferrara (The Washington Times) took dirty money to write positive articles for Jack Abramoff clients. Pay-for-praise Iraqi newspapers published American propaganda from American sources under Iraqi bylines. What we can learn for 2006: Don’t believe everything you read. Taking money for work done well is the American way. Taking money for propagandizing the American way is not. 2005 failure: Fox News informed us that the most important news items of the past year were the Natalee Holloway disappearance and the War on Christmas. What we can learn for 2006: Rediscover newspapers. Politics 2005 failure: Demonstrating clearly that absolute power corrupts absolutely, a whole heap of politicians and lobbyists found themselves in trouble with the law, and almost every one of them told us that they would be vindicated. To date, none of them – DeLay, Abramoff, Scanlon, Cunningham, Frist and Libby – have, in fact, been vindicated. Giving them the benefit of the doubt, what they probably meant was that they would be “indicted,” or in the least, “investigated.” What we can learn for 2006: If you find yourself becoming more and more powerful, stop just before you are absolutely powerful and settle with being only a smidgen corrupt. 2005 failure: A rockin’ year for President George W. Bush as he had his monthlong vacation rocked by Gold Star mom Cindy Sheehan and rather nasty Gulf Coast weather; his Social Security reform rocked by lack of any public support; his warrantless spying rocked by The New York Times; his victory in Iraq rocked by an insurgency in its last throes, secret CIA prisons, torture and Rep. John Murtha; his Supreme Court nominee and bestest pal Harriet Miers rocked by really hard test questions; his close adviser and brain Karl Rove rocked by federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald; and his Homeland Security rocked by a 9-11 Commission grade of F. What we can learn for 2006: Second terms are no fun at all. 2005 failure: Despite all that went wrong for the president and the Republican Party, every time a prominent member of the Democratic Party opened his or her mouth, foot was promptly inserted. See: Dick Durbin, John Kerry, Howard Dean, Ted Kennedy and the rest of the usual suspects. What we can learn for 2006: When your enemy is committing suicide, don’t try to help him. Disasters/Homeland security (interchangeable) 2005 failure: Hurricane Katrina brought a flood of, um, inaccuracies: “You’re doing a heckuva job, Brownie,” “I don’t think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees,” and the ever-popular “Things are working out pretty well for (Katrina’s homeless victims).” What we can learn for 2006: If you’re going to deceive, be sure you first expunge all expert testimony, video/audio, hard drives and personal recollection. Better yet, don’t lie. It’s easier than having a good memory. Sports 2005 failure: Philadelphia Eagles star receiver Terrell Owens and Indiana Pacers star forward Ron Artest both signed big multimillion-dollar contracts then spent the year tearing apart their teams. Ultimately, they were thrown off their teams and lost millions. What we can learn for 2006: If you’re taking the money, take the nonsense that comes with it. If you’re taking an un-freaking-believable amount of money, then pay someone to sew up your mouth and place you under lock and key until the contract runs out. 2005 failure: Under oath, baseball star Rafael Palmiero testified to Congress that he did not take performance-enhancing drugs, then later tests proved he did. What we can learn for 2006: If you’re going to testify to Congress and lie, make sure you don’t swear you won’t. Fond farewells 2005 failure: We lost Johnny Carson, Rosa Parks, Richard Pryor, Anne Bancroft, Luther Vandross, Peter Jennings, Simon Wiesenthal and hundreds more U.S. military heroes. What we can learn for 2006: Appreciate those you love while they’re still around. Steve Young is author of “Great Failures of the Extremely Successful,” www.greatfailure.com.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Failures, missteps and adversity filled a year that some say they couldn’t take for one more second. Too bad for the pessimists, as scientists actually added one more second than normal to 2005 to make up for the slowing down of Earth’s rotation. Maybe that’s why it seems that the last year had so much more bad news than normal. But was all that bad news a bad thing? Failures are one of the greatest learning tools available. Here’s a guide using the past year’s liabilities to your personal advantage in 2006, broken down into helpful categories., Show biz/state government (interchangeable) 2005 failure: In a year that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s popularity disappeared along with his name on an Austrian soccer stadium, the Governator couldn’t win for losing and he lost a lot (except for the $8 million he received from writing for muscle magazines). Lowest point amid the many: Arnold gave a special-election party and no one wanted to come. Unfortunately for the governor, people came anyway. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECoach Doc Rivers a “fan” from way back of Jazz’s Jordan Clarkson What we can learn for 2006: Shoving anything down someone’s throat will usually result in gagging and vomiting. Muscling your agenda down the throats of voters tends to do the same thing. 2005 failure: Tom Cruise melted down any number of times, jumping all over Oprah’s couch, telling Matt Lauer and Brooke Shields that he knew more about handling postpartum depression than psychiatrists, and announcing that there was no such thing as chemical imbalance. What we can learn for 2006: No matter how talented or attractive or rich you are, the brain is a very fragile organ. 2005 failure: “Bewitched, “Dukes of Hazzard,” “Son of the Mask,” “Breakfast on Pluto,” “Lords of Dogtown,” “The Man,” “Yours, Mine and Ours,” “Alexander,” etc., etc. And for some unfathomable reason, they kept letting Rob Schneider make movies. What we can learn for 2006: Next time when you see a film trailer and think to yourself, “If these are the best scenes from this movie, then this movie must be really bad,” trust your instincts.