Monday, December 29, 2008

The Office Pool, 2009

In my previous post I checked out how well I predicted the events of 2008. Now, I'll predict the events of 2009, again using William Safire's annual column in the New York Times. My reasons for making these choices are in italics.

1. In Demo-dominated D.C., post-postpartisan tension will pit:
(c) Chief of staff Rahm Emanuel against United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice, a Zbigniew Brzezinski acolyte, over Mideast policy (Emanuel, the son of an Israeli, is likely to clash with the not-so-Israel-friendly Brzezinski school of thought).

2. Springtime for G.M. will lead to: none of the above. (I'm no expert, but I dare say that excessive industrial bailouts and mergers with Toyota or any other foreign car company won't happen. The third option won't happen either).

3. Toughest foreign affairs challenge will come if:
(a) Afghanistan becomes “Obama’s War” or “Obama’s Retreat” (I doubt the US will retreat from Iraq during 2009. It can still be quite a quagmire, but the trouble won't come from a withdrawal. Ukraine is no Georgia, so Russia won't mess with it, even if Putin needs something to distract Russians from the economic depression. An India-Pakistan war is a serious danger, too, but there is a good chance it can be avoided. Which leaves Afghanistan as the toughest challenge. I'd also add the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the list).

4. Oil selling below $50 a barrel will:
(a) threaten President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s June election in Iran (he ain't that popular as it is, but with the economy in the toilet he's even worse off, and hopefully, he'll lose in June. Oil prices have nothing to do with popular support for Hamas, though it may reduce the money Hamas gets from oil producing countries. Anyway, if Tzippi Livni defeats Netanyahu in Feb., it won't be the indirect result of oil prices, but the direct result of the current operation in Gaza).

5. Best-picture Oscar goes to:
(d) “Gran Torino” (I haven't seen any of these films, but I know the Academy loves Clint Eastwood. I'd put my money on two other films not on Safire's list: WALL-E, which I haven't seen yet, or "The Dark Knight", which I've seen and liked, but don't think deserves the honor).

6. The non-fiction sleeper will be:
(e) “Ponzi Shmonzi: The Bernie Madoff Story,” crash-published by a dozen houses (Just a guess, but I think some of those who lost all their savings because of the son of a bitch can regain some of their money by writing books about him).

7. The don’t-ask deficit at year’s end will be:
(c) $1,393,665,042,198 and no cents. (Or more generally, I think the deficit will grow and be more than a trillion, but less than 2 trillion. I say this, of course, despite my complete ignorance of economic affairs, so I'm probably very wrong).

8. In Congress:
(c) among Senate Democrats, Judiciary chairman Pat Leahy’s influence will rise because Supreme Court nominations will take center stage, while Harry Reid’s clout dissipates because of home-state weakness (I suppose Supreme Court nominations are coming up, so Leahy's clout will grow. I'm not sure it will come at the expense of Harry Reid, though).

9. Post-honeymoon journalists and bloody-minded bloggers will dig into:
(a) the jailhouse singing by Chicago’s felonious fixer, Tony (“Who You Callin’ ‘Boneheaded’?”) Rezko, to Dewey-eyed prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald to reduce his six-year sentence (Naturally, the guy who has some kind of connection to the new president, as weak as the connection is, is bound to interest the media. Besides, Chicago's corruption has always been fascinating).

10. The Supreme Court will decide:
(a) in nipple exposure or “fleeting expletives” on live TV, that the F.C.C. exceeded its authority in fining Fox for indecency
(b) that the Federal Election Commission was wrong to censure a moviemaker whose “biopic” was hostile to Hillary Clinton during her campaign
(c) that the appearance of impropriety in financial dealings of a West Virginia judge disqualified him from sitting in a coal-company dispute
(d) that Attorney General John Ashcroft and F.B.I. director Robert Mueller had a “qualified immunity” from being sued for racial profiling in imprisoning suspected terrorists
(e) that in al-Marri v. Pucciarelli, a legal U.S. resident cannot be held indefinitely at Guantánamo (sounds safe enough to guess that all of these will come true).

11. Obama philosophy will be regarded as:
(b) determinedly centrist on health care, immigration and protectionism (I think Obama will tread carefully on all issues).

12. Year-end presidential approval rating will be:
(c) sinking but 30 points higher than that of Congress and the news media (and much higher than Bush's approval rating. The euphoria will end so Obama's approval will drop somewhat, but there is a good chance it will still be high).

I wonder, has anyone stuck around to read all my predictions?

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