News that Billy Idol (or was it Billy Kristol, I forget) has been offered a op-ed slot at the New York Times brought home the fact that Brooks, Broder, Krauthammer, Hiatt, Novak are not aberrations, and that the standards for punditry are in fact very low.
So, what the heck, I gave myself ten minutes to come up with ten very tame predictions for 2008. Let’s see how I do. (I took extra time to add the links.)
1. We’ll still be in two wars at the end of the year. Iraq and Afghanistan are not going to end. US soldiers and many foreign and domestic civilians will die due to war-related injuries. (Confidence: total.)
2. The selloff of US assets, both financial and non-financial, will accelerate in 2008. Media commentary will continue to celebrate it as a solution to short-term problems (insolvency, trade deficit, falling dollar) without noticing that it is the cause of multiple long-term problems (structural trade deficit as revenues flow abroad; moving of never center of corporate control off-shore; strategic reduction in both domestic and international policy flexibility). (Confidence: very high.)
3. The Presidential election will not be the Democratic blow-out so many pundits are currently predicting. A Democrat will win, but not by a landslide. (Confidence: moderate.)
4. We will elect a Democratic Congress for the first time since 1994. (That is not a typo – what we have not is not in very many meaningful senses a Democratic Congress). (Confidence: moderate.)
5. The Republican party will adopt the Democratic tactic known as the “circular firing squad.” But the Democratic party will not learn to be as disciplined as the GOP of the 80s, 90s or even the first half of the 2000's. (Confidence: very high.)
6. Contrary to the upbeat predictions in my local paper (“Horrible year for housing should not repeat in '08”), the housing market will tank worse in 2008 than it did in 2007. (Confidence: total.)
7. By the end of 2008,the US will be or will have been in a recession. (Confidence: very high.)
8. The Fed will respond aggressively, inflation will rise, and economists will be worrying loudly about stagflation. (Confidence: very high.)
9. Miami will have a worse hurricane season than in 2007. (Cheap prediction as we didn’t even have a real scare this year.) (Confidence: very high.)
10. There will be at least one coordinated botnet operation (fed by a worm or a widely distributed trojan) that will dwarf anything we've seen so far either in its size, or in the precision of its targets (e.g. banks).
Surely that major columnist gig is just around the corner?
(Additional predictions welcomed in comments.)
Bonus prediction: BK will be so bad, he'll make Brooks look … no, never mind. Can't be done. (Confidence: total.)
Whatssamatter? Those were too tame? OK I gave myself five extra minutes to come up with ten more in which I have moderate to low confidence — but I think they're all possible:
11. Major new computer virus infection as virus writers (at least temporarily) outstrip antiviral software makers.
12. Record number of human deaths due to avian flu.
13. Record shrinking of arctic glaciers. GOP continues to deny global warming. US policies continue to allow foreign dirigiste economies to steal a march on solar and carbon-reducing technologies.
14. OLPC initiative creates new industry: networks of low-wage kids defeating “capchas” by hand.
15. Several governments act to “solve” the spam problem — by attacking online anonymity.
16. Good news: ICANN creates a record number of new TLDs. Bad news: you can't have one — only governments can.
17. Someone will finally come out with an ultra-portable laptop with an adequate keyboard that also runs XP well. They will make a lot of money on it.
18. Guantanamo will not be closed, but the population will be lowered substantially.
And two wild predictions:
19. Someone will be prosecuted for contempt of Congress (or for inherent contempt if the US Atty won't bring the charges).
20. I will produce a draft of my book.
(Actually, that took about seven minutes, but who's counting?)
Unfortunately, the Republicans will hold on to the Presidency (the Democrats will pick up a few more seats in the Senate though).
Funny how after the roaring 90’s under Bill Clinton, Al Gore couldn’t get elected… then after the worst 8 years in the history of the US under imbecile Bush, a republican will get elected…
I think you might be wrong on #1. The neocons think that they can start at least one more war before their time is up. Most likely the attack on Iran will start in November, unless the election throws up a neo-con who can be trusted to start it on their watch.
So that would be three separate wars or one single joined up catastrophe.
I don’t think #2 is much of a disaster. US business is now suffering from the same blight that killed UK manufacturing industry after WWII – extreme short sightedness. Every company, regardless of industry is now expected to plan for nothing more than the next quarters results. So the first time a company sees trouble they jettison R&D and the vicious circle kicks in. US businesses today are run the same way that the TV networks are and with the same degree of imagination.
I am not sure what will happen in the Presidential election, the real question is not when the Republican party breaks but when the establishment media breaks. At this point they have utterly lost the under 30 audience who rightly consider Jon Stewart a more credible news source than the networks. At some point the US Republican party will find itself in the same situation that the UK Tories have, whether it will be this election that happens is still to be decided.
Your #2 is the most interesting, possibly even the most “predictive,” and probably the one about which the least number of people in the US are cogitating. Too bad.