Advancing a Free Society

2012 - Crystal Ball Edition

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

For years, my favorite column was the late William Safire’s annual “office pool” – the columnist, former speechwriter and language sage predicting twists and turns in politics, economics, world affairs and pop culture.

What Safire produced each year was, as his surname suggested, a gem – often replicated, never quite duplicated.

In that spirit, here’s my effort to lure you into the crystal ball:


1. By the end of 2013, President Obama’s approval rating (over 50% since the election) will be:

a. About the same, the 2nd-term honeymoon lasts

b. Better, Obama benefitting from GOP turmoil

c. Worse, the honeymoon soon over;

d. Worse – dramatically so, buyer’s remorse


2. The most significant Congressional achievement in 2013:

a. Assault weapons ban

b. Immigration reform

c. Entitlement reform.

d. Kicking the can into 2014


3. During 2013, the Republican voice of reason and direction will turn out to be:

a.  A congressional leader (John Boehner, Mitch McConnell)

b. A 2016 hopeful (Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker)

c. A pundit/media figure (Rush Limbaugh, Bill Kristol)

d. Ronald Reagan’s speeches, letters, advice and witticisms


4. The Republican frontrunner at the end of 2013 will be:

a. Ryan

b. Rubio

c. Bush

d. Chris Christie

e. Someone else


5. The dominant story line coming out of the 2013 gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey:

a. Bitter bloodbath in Virginia between Republican AG Ken Cuccinelli and former DNC chair/Clinton moneyman Terry McAuliffe

b. A more civil, civics-based race in NJ featuring Christie and Newark Mayor Corey Booker (assuming the latter runs)

c. What the two races say about the post-Obama Democratic brand

d. What the races say about the retooling of the GOP brand


6. The Democratic frontrunner for 2016 will be:

a. Hillary Clinton

b. Joe Biden

c. The combined plurality of Mario Cuomo, Martin O’Malley, Mark Warner, Deval Patrick, Brian Schweitzer, John Hickenlooper


7. The Clinton story that attracts the most attention in 2013:

a. Hillary’s job status

b. Bill’s health

c. Chelsea’s fertility


8. Trouble in the Middle East in 2013 comes most ominously from:

a. The rise of Al Qaeda in a post-Assad Syria

b. Fighting between pro-Morsi Islamists and the National Salvation Front

Gaza truce failing to last – a repeat of 2012’s military campaign and rocket salvos

c. Israel taking action against Iran – Iranian moves in Persian Gulf leading to global oil shock


9. “Lincoln” and the 85th Academy Awards:

a. Tinseltown as the “Land of Lincoln” (at least two wins for Best Actor, Best Director, Best Picture)

b. A “rail-split” verdict: Oscar for Daniel Day-Lewis, no statue for Spielberg

c. The “Private Ryan” treatment: historical flick undermined by lightweight fare (“Shakespeare in Love” in 1999; “Les Miserables/”The Master” in 2013)


10. Most likely global economic scenario in 2013:

a. European situation stabilizes

b. Chinese economy slowly regains momentum

c. Market panic in Japan, debt-ridden government defaults

d. Sub-Sahara Africa growth outpaces Russia and Germany


11. Most likely U.S. economic scenario in 2013:

a. GDP growth averages better than 2.5%

b. Dow finishes 2013 over 14,000, NASDA over 3,500

c. Private sector exhales after fiscal-cliff drama – investment kicks in, job market improves

d. Kersplat: economy goes into recession


12. The emerging story line in Sacramento in 2013:

a. Democratic supermajorities result in land-rush of progressive legislation

b. Gov. Jerry Brown butting heads with aforementioned liberal social engineers

c. Business as usual: Brown gas-and-braking on left’s agenda


13. Biggest political surprise in California in 2013:

a. Brown announces he won’t seek a second term, setting off Newsom-Harris jostling

b. State Treasurer Bill Lockyer calls it a career, decides not to run for State Controller in 2014

c. New Republican state party chair Jim Brulte begins the rebuilding process w/ favorable media reviews

d. Gonzo media-man Fred Davis’ ad campaign fuels surprising strong showing by Kevin James in L.A. mayor’s race


14. The nation-state’s presence in the 2013 World Series:

a. At least one California team on the field

b. The 1st Freeway Series (Dodgers-Angels)

c. The 2nd Bay Bridge Series (Giants-A’s)

d. All five California teams strike out


15. Fifty years after the JFK assassination, the most significant yet under-reported anniversary of 2013 will be:

a. Richard Nixon’s birthday centennial (1/9/1913)

b. 75 years since Treaty of Munich signed by Hitler, Mussolini, Daladier and Chamberlain (9/28/1938)

c. 25 years since Rush Limbaugh’s first national broadcast (8/1/1988)

d. 10 years since invasion of Iraq (3/19/2003)

e. 5 years since Bill Gates relinquishes Microsoft chair to focus on foundation efforts (6/27/2008)


My selections: 1 (c); 2 (a); 3 (d); 4 (c); 5 (d); 6 (a); 7 (a); 8 (c); 9 (a); 10 (d); 11 (a); 12 (c); 13 (c); 14 (a); 15 (a) – I’ll fully explain why on the great man’s birthday.


Follow Bill Whalen on Twitter: @hooverwhalen