Wednesday, December 31, 2003
Bill Safire has an office pool for predictions for the coming year. My bets and his:
1. Next tyranny to feel the force of U.S. liberation: (a) North Korea; (b) Iran; (c) Syria; (d) Venezuela. SAFIRE PICK: NONE; GIDEON'S BLOG PICK: NONE
2. Iraq will (a) split up, like all Gaul, into three parts; (b) defeat the insurgents and emerge a rudimentary democracy; (c) succumb to a Sunni coup. SAFIRE PICK: (B); GIDEON'S BLOG PICK: (C) - though I will claim a moral victory if it's not a coup but some gentler assumption of hegemony
3. First to fall from power will be (a) Little China's Chen Shui-bian, whose two-China campaign oratory on Taiwan is asking for trouble with Big China; (b) Pakistan's Musharraf, double-crossed by his Islamist military; (c) the U.S.'s Bush, after abandoning fiscal restraint; (d) Russia's Putin as his electorate miraculously awakens; (e) Cuba's Castro. SAFIRE PICK: (E); GIDEON'S BLOG PICK: (A) - Castro is never going to die
4. Long-overdue exoneration will come to embattled media megastar (a) Martha Stewart; (b) Michael Jackson; (c) Kenneth Lay; (d) Pete Rose. SAFIRE PICK: (A); GIDEON'S BLOG PICK: (A)
5. The economy will (a) see a booming 13,000 Dow and 3,000 Nasdaq; (b) grow more slowly as a weakening dollar drives up interest rates; (c) be rocked by the abuse of manipulative derivatives in hedge funds. SAFIRE PICK: ALL; GIDEON'S BLOG PICK: (B). No way we see a 3000 NASDAQ, and I work with hedge funds and derivatives, and I assure you, the sky is not going to fall because of them. Interest rates are going up, up, up, or the dollar is going down, down, down, and either one is bearish, though the former not catastrophically so. It'll look like 1994, I bet. Bears think it'll look like 1973.
6. The fiction best seller will be (a) "Retribution" by Jilliane Hoffman; (b) "Confessions of a Bigamist" by Kate Lehrer; (c) "Flying Crows" by Jim Lehrer (presumably one of Kate's husbands). SAFIRE PICK: (B); GIDEON'S BLOG PICK: ??? Who are these people?
7. The nonfiction sleeper will be (a) "Inside — A Public and Private Life" by Joseph Califano Jr.; (b) Carl Zimmer's brainy "Soul Made Flesh"; (c) Michael Korda's biography of U. S. Grant; (d) Gertrude Himmelfarb's "The Roads to Modernity." SAFIRE PICK: (A); GIDEON'S BLOG PICK: (A), by process of elimination.
8. The scientific advance of the year will be (a) age retardation enhanced by memory protection; (b) a single pill combining erectile dysfunction treatment with a fast-acting aphrodisiac; (c) neuroscientists' creation of a unified field theory of the brain; (d) the awakening of geneticists to the liberating study of bioethics. SAFIRE PICK: (D); GIDEON'S BLOG PICK: NONE. Wish I had Safire's confidence here.
9. Best-Picture Oscar: (a) Anthony Minghella's "Cold Mountain"; (b) Edward Zwick's "The Last Samurai"; (c) Clint Eastwood's "Mystic River"; (d) Sofia Coppola's "Lost in Translation"; (e) Gary Ross's "Seabiscuit." (This is the category I'm good at.) SAFIRE PICK: (C); GIDEON'S BLOG PICK: (A). Not that I've seen it, but come on. Minghella? Kidman? Epic? Civil War? Better than Gone With the Wind?
10. Bush's domestic initiative will be (a) Social Security personal accounts; (b) community college scholarships; (c) a moon colony; (d) snowmobile restrictions in Florida parks. SAFIRE PICK: (B); GIDEON'S BLOG PICK: (B). Maybe - maybe - we get (A) in 2005.
11. The U.S. Supreme Court (a) will decide that the rights of alien detainees in Guantánamo have not been violated; (b) will deadlock, 4-4 (Scalia recused), in the Pledge of Allegiance case, thereby temporarily affirming the Ninth Circuit decision declaring "under God" in the pledge unconstitutional; (c) in Tennessee v. Lane will uphold a state's immunity to lawsuits, limiting federal power in the Americans with Disabilities Act. SAFIRE'S PICK: ALL; GIDEON'S BLOG PICK: A and C but not B. Kennedy's not that stupid.
12. Howard Dean will (a) sweep Iowa and New Hampshire and breeze to a boring nomination; (b) lose to Gephardt in Iowa and do worse than expected in N.H., leading to a long race; (c) transform himself into the centrist, affable "new Dean"; (d) angrily bolt and form a third party if the nomination is denied him. SAFIRE PICK: (B); GIDEON'S BLOG PICK: NONE. Dean wins Iowa and New Hampshire and then hits a Clark-shaped speed bump in South Carolina.
13. The "October surprise" affecting our election will be (a) the capture of bin Laden in Yemen; (b) the daring escape of Saddam; (c) a major terror attack in the U.S.; (d) finding a buried bag of anthrax in Tikrit. SAFIRE PICK: (C); GIDEON'S BLOG PICK: it ain't gonna be A, B or D, so let's just pray for NONE, shall we?
14. Debating Cheney on TV will be the Democratic running mate (a) Wes Clark; (b) Bob Graham; (c) Bill Richardson; (d) Dianne Feinstein; (e) John Edwards; (f) Carl Levin. SAFIRE PICK: (B); GIDEON'S BLOG PICK: (C). You gotta be kidding, Bill. What, they want to make Cheney look manic by comparison?
15. The next secretary of state will be (a) Richard Holbrooke; (b) Paul Bremer; (c) Donald Rumsfeld; (d) John Kerry. SAFIRE PICK: (B); GIDEON'S BLOG PICK: NONE. Powell will retire, but I don't think Bremer's next in line. Not sure who is. Could be Armitage, I guess.
16. Israel, staunchly supported during the U.S. election year, will (a) build its security barrier including the Ariel salient and the Jordan Valley; (b) undermine Arafat by negotiating territory with Syria after Assad quiets Hezbollah in occupied Lebanon; (c) close down illegal outposts before "redeploying" settlers out of Gaza. SAFIRE PICK: ALL; GIDEON'S BLOG PICK: A and C, but probably not B. I can't believe Syria would do something helpful for a change. But I do believe Israel will build the fence, that it'll include Ariel, and that Israel will be out of Gaza, all within the year. Happy Unilateral Day everybody!