Notes on the Atrocities
Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...

Friday, January 02, 2004  

Safire's annual office pool quiz is out. He poses a few interesting questions:

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.

I like it particularly because of (e)--one year it will be right, but who's going to bet on it? Safire does, with the explanatory: "I've made this yearly prediction for three decades and now is not the time to stop." (I'd guess Musharraf, but maybe that's just because he's been in the news. How about (f), Kim Jong Il? That would be the best news.)

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 selects "all," (he's wily that way) and he's probably right. But those won't be the only effects: the dollar will continue to weaken against the Euro, unemployment will remain stubbornly fixed, and spending and consumer confidence will weaken. None of it, though, will be definitive enough to damage Bush.

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 believes (b), but I think it will actually be somewhere between (a) and (b). Dean will emerge.

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 goes with (b), grossly misunderestimating Dean. (c) is actually an interesting choice, but I expect Dean to find someone with foreign policy cred, not someone to appeal to minority voters. Clark isn't likely to play second banana to anyone, so how about Merrill McPeak? He's a general who didn't equivocate about the war back in February and March: he was solidly agin it. And of course:

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, of course, likes (b). He's a little more optimistic here than the situation justifies. I'd say it's either (d) violence and terror continue to plague the country, preventing any meaningful move toward a functioning government (see Afghanistan) or (e) succumb to a Shi'a coup.

Fun stuff if you're looking to kill a little time--Safire has produced a typically thought-provoking quiz.

posted by Jeff | 9:30 AM |
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