Tuesday, January 01, 2008

The Office Pool, 2008

It's two hours after midnight here in Israel, which means it's already 2008 here. What better way is there to start the year than by making baseless predictions? I'll use William Safire's office pool op-ed in today's (or rather yesterday's) New York Times to predict the future.

1. The business headline of the year will be: (a) Big Bounce to 15,000 Dow After Soft Landing (economics and the markets ain't my turf, so this is a wild guess).

2. The Academy Award for Best Picture will go to: (a) “There Will Be Blood” (The truth is I haven't seen any of the movies Safire "nominated", and I'd actually bet on another film I haven't seen that isn't on Safire's list - "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" - the Academy sure loves movies about handicaps).

3. The Roberts Supreme Court will decide that:
(a) gun rights belong to the individual, but the Second Amendment’s key limitation is that gun possession should be “well-regulated”
(b) states can require voter ID to prevent fraud even if it reduces access
(c) lethal injection is not cruel or unusual punishment if it isn’t painful
(d) the “ancient right” of habeas corpus applies to Guantánamo detainees no matter what law Congress passes (I think all four will happen).

4. The fiction sleeper best seller will be: (b) “Shadow and Light,” by Jonathan Rabb, set in prewar Germany (just a wild guess).

5. The nonfiction success will be: (c) “Counselor: A Life at the Edge of History” by Ted Sorensen, President Kennedy’s alter ego (anything JFK-related has good chances of success).

6. The media world will be rocked as: (c) Google challenges telecommunications giants by taking steps to provide both telephone and video on the Internet (seems like the next logical step towards World Domination).

7. In United States foreign policy debates: (b) failure in Iraq will sink stay-the-course Republicans (the surge has improved the situation from dire to just plain old very bad, so Americans will still want to get the hell out of there).

8. The de facto dictator truly leaving the political scene this year will be: (d) Fidel Castro (he just might die during 2008. Chavez, Putin and Mugabe ain't goin' nowhere. One de facto dictator that might leave the political scene who isn't on Safire's list is Musharraf, but this will only happen by force, most likely deadly force).

9. By year’s end, American diplomats will be negotiating openly with: (c) Iran (none of the above is more likely, but if I had to pick one, it makes more sense that the US would start talks with Iran, if it complies with international demands for inspections. Diplomats might also talk to the Taliban and Hamas covertly).

10. The two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli dispute appears when: (b) an Ehud Barak-Benjamin Netanyahu rematch results in a majoritarian, rightist coalition victory (Does Safire mean that the two-state solution will come to fruition? If he does, than I'd say that's not happening in 2008. But if the question is which option will become a reality, the division of Jerusalem into two capitals and Palestinian unity sound like wishful thinking at this point. Unfortunately, a Netanyahu victory is very probable).

11. Assuming the Iowa caucuses to be meaningless pollster-media hype, the January primary state with the biggest influence on the outcome of both parties’ nominations will be: (d) Florida (assuming nobody wins decisively in New Hampshire, Florida, the last state to hold its primaries before Super Tuesday, will be most influential, being the freshest in the minds of Super Tuesday voters' minds).

12. The American troop level in Iraq at year’s end will be: (a) the present 152,000 (even if a Democrat wins in November, Bush is in office till January 20, 2009, so I don't think troop levels will be reduced).

13. The issue most affecting the vote on Election Day will be: (c) health plans: incentivize or socialize (that and Iraq, which doesn't really fit Safire's fourth option, "diplomacy: accommodating realism or extending freedom").

14. The presidential election will hinge primarily on: (b) success or failure in Iraq (unless something unexpected happens, and in politics, expect the unexpected).

15. The Democratic ticket will be: (c) Clinton-Bill Richardson (I expect Clinton to win the nomination, and she needs an experienced running mate).

16. The Republican ticket will be: (a) Rudolph Giuliani-Mike Huckabee (since Safire's other options, Romney-Petraeus and McCain-Bloomberg, are both wildly far-fetched. Regardless of Safire's options, my prediction is that it will end up being Romney-Huckabee).

17. The winning theme in November will be: (c) experience counts (that would definitely be a good theme for a Clinton-Richardson ticket running against a Romney-Huckabee ticket, or for a McCain campaign).

18. The election will be decided on: (a) charisma, (b) experience, (e) money and (f) issues (I think experience and issues should be enough, but the American people think otherwise. I do believe, though, that character won't play much of a role this time around).

19. As 2009 dawns, Americans will face: (a) a leftward march, with the Clintons in the White House and a Democratic Congress (minus the rest of the sentence, where Safire says Congress will be "feeling no tax, entitlement or earmark restraint").

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