EDITOR’S NOTE: It has become an annual ritual at NRO: We find brave men and women (some repeatedly sacrifice themselves!) who are willing to go on record trying to predict the future. Herein, predictions for 2004.
Bush wins reelection with 53 percent of the vote. Dean carries New England, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, Washington, Oregon, Hawaii, the District, and two out of four of California, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Does that still make GWB president? I think so. His running mate will be someone not now running for president, and not Mrs. Clinton. Bush’s second term will be awful (all have been, except Monroe’s).
There is some terrorist activity in mainland United States, not as grave as 9/11.
Britney Spears, her career flagging, appears buck-naked in some public venue.
Philip Roth wins the Nobel Prize for literature.
John Paul II’s successor is an Italian church bureaucrat.
There is no Anglican schism about any matter of principle.
Return of the King is nominated for Best Picture, but does not win.
Rick Brookhiser is a National Review senior editor and author, most recently, of Gentleman Revolutionary: Gouverneur Morris, the Rake Who Wrote the Constitution.
”Liberal talk radio” is finally rolled out, getting a huge, free media blitz from the likes of Katie Couric. Marquee stars turnout in force to promote the effort, including regular guest appearances on various shows by the cast of West Wing, Alec Baldwin, and Barbara Streisand. This massive and expensive effort loses money hand over fist and while it does not officially die–in large part because the presidential election gives it an artificial popularity–it is a clear business flop. Matt Drudge reports its quarterly losses, prompting even more calls that he’s an “enemy of democracy.”
There is a major exodus from the Bush administration as numerous Cabinet members depart–largely to see if the public knew they were still alive.
Thanks in part to his surprising success as drug czar–and in part due to the fact that al Qaeda is becoming a drug gang–John Walters successfully lobbies the White House to make drug interdiction a priority in the war on terrorism.
In the wake of the John “F-ing” Kerry and Wesley Clark profanity controversies, the rest of the Democrats join in, dropping the F-bomb and other curse words on every Democratic audience. Replacing such innocuous phrases as Bill Clinton’s promise to “focus like a laser” on the economy or Jerry Ford’s “Whip Inflation Now,” Dennis Kucinich promises to make the economy “his bitch.” Dick Gephardt works crowds up into a frenzy with a call-and-response playing on the verb form of his first name. At a Teamsters meeting in Michigan, Howard Dean is tackled by his campaign manager, Joe Trippi, before the candidate can finish the sentence “I will rip out the eyes of unemployment and skull f….” When George W. Bush suggests that such language is inappropriate in a mature democracy, Terry McAuliffe accuses John Ashcroft of favoring censorship.
NBC changes its name to Dateline: Law & Order when the two franchises finally make up more than 50 percent of all the network’s programming.
Porn magazines start to go out of business in droves, including some famous ones, as it becomes clear that the Internet is where the action is.
Howard Dean scores huge points with the Democratic base when he accuses the White House of colluding with the Saudis to prevent the building of a bike path all around America.
Madonna rescinds her funding for Kabbalah studies when a rabbi finally explains that the Kabbalah requires that the fading pop star be stoned to death.
Bill Clinton is caught saying something disparaging about Howard Dean or Al Gore–or both–”by accident” as a way to signal his displeasure at the Dean boomlet without “officially” interfering in the race.
George W. Bush wins reelection with 53 percent of the vote.
All of my predictions from 2003 which Providence in its wisdom has not seen fit to fully realize, come true in 2004.
Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of NRO.
JANUARY, 2003: Despite Oklahoma’s loss to LSU and USC’s 63-10 victory over Michigan, the BCS system declares the Sooners national champs. The DNC asks the Florida secretary of state to immediately adopt the BCS computer for all future elections.
A record-setting blizzard and a general lack of support for the Democratic candidates are blamed when only 127 Iowans show up for their state’s presidential caucus. Seventy-three of them were bused in by an AME church in Des Moines giving Al Sharpton an upset victory over Howard Dean and Dick Gephardt. When reminded that he predicted a win, Dean denies ever having been to Iowa.
FEBRUARY: Sharpton stuns the political world again by winning the South Carolina primary after proving he is, in fact, a first cousin of Strom Thurmond.
MARCH: Early setbacks for Dean, Gephardt, et. al. leave the Democratic field divided and without a frontrunner–a condition exacerbated when Arizona, Georgia, and Kansas throw their delegates to U.S. Senator John McCain. McCain says he needs time for quiet reflection and contemplation before making a decision to run and promptly retires to a 24-hour marathon appearance on Hardball.
APRIL: The Pennsylvania Democratic primary is thrown into turmoil when one of the “poll workers” turns out to be Sen. John Kerry. Interestingly, nobody recognized him until midday when he tried to send out for a lunch of “coq au vin and a nice Bordeaux.”
MAY: First quarter economic growth hits a record high. Osama bin Laden is captured driving a cab in Jersey City, N.J. where he is a regular listener to the Bob Grant radio show. US Senator John Edwards sweeps all of the May primaries except North Carolina, which he loses to a surging Dennis Kucinich, riding the “We’re gonna get creamed anyway, why not go completely nuts?” Democratic bandwagon.
JUNE: Desperate Democrats draft Hillary Clinton into the presidential race. Her first test is the Alabama primary on June 1st. Not a single elected Democrat will appear with her in public, and state police cannot guarantee her safety. However, she wins the primary by a huge margin after pledging never to set foot in Alabama for the rest of her natural life.
JULY: Facing a divided nominating convention and a potentially bloody floor fight, the Democratic National Committee attempt to turn their prospects around by announcing a surprise “Unity Ticket” at their convention in Boston. The “Zell Miller/Ralph Nader” ticket gets a total of 12 delegate votes. The Democrats end their convention by nominating “a candidate TBD [to be determined].”
AUGUST: President Bush tells the GOP convention that America’s security and prosperity have returned. Howard Dean insists “more jobs and economic growth don’t make America any more prosperous.” Columnist Paul Krugman claims that prosperity is actually a form of “economic oppression. George W. Bush is oppressing us by helping us be safe and happy,” he says.
SEPTEMBER: The DNC continues to assure supporters that they are about to nominate a “viable, energetic ticket offering fresh ideas for the presidency.” However, their first trial balloon (“Carter/Dukakis”) flops.
OCTOBER: The Democrats finally unveil their presidential ticket: “Franken and Moore in 2004!” The stock market breaks 15,000. Al Franken angrily rejects accusations that he’s turning the campaign into a joke. “Hey, when was the last time I was actually funny?” he demands. The criticism is swiftly withdrawn.
NOVEMBER: The Bush/Rice ticket soars to victory, and their momentum adds five southern Republicans to the U.S. Senate. Former senator John Edwards announces a class-action suit on behalf of “all viable Democratic presidential candidates whose candidacies where undermined by Howard Dean.” Dean, responding from his court-ordered anger management treatment (see: “Outraged Dr. Dean Attempts To Give Gephardt An Involuntary Prostate Exam, Charged With Assault,” NYTimes) claims Edwards is just suing him because he’s a doctor.
DECEMBER: Christmas once again brings peace and joy to families all across America. In a heart-warming gesture of the season, Al Sharpton offers to withdraw his lawsuit claiming Joe Lieberman was an unnamed co-conspirator in the Tawana Brawley case.
Michael Graham is a talk-show host and writer in the Washington, D.C.-South Carolina region.
Howard Dean wins the Democratic nomination easily. He selects Evan Bayh as his running mate. President Bush wins in a landslide, losing only Vermont, Indiana, Maryland, New York, and the District of Columbia.
The Bush-Cheney ticket carries a majority of the Catholic vote, the Jewish vote, and 45 percent of the Latino vote. Howard Dean carries less than 35 percent of the Anglo male vote.
The GOP picks up a net six Senate seats. On the day after the election, Senator Patrick Leahy states that this is not a referendum on his corruption of the judicial nomination process.
Bill Clinton stars at the farewell dinner for Terry MacAuliffe, and proclaims him the greatest chair the DNC has ever had.
Republican candidates for the state assembly and senate in California make significant campaigns after Arnold campaigns on the platform of “send me some rational people to work with.”
Biotech stocks lead a NASDAQ rally to 2500. The Dow reaches 12,000 by Election Day.
Syria undergoes regime change.
Return of the King wins Best Picture.
The Evangelical Outpost and Powerline become the must-read blogs of ‘04. James Lileks’s new tome makes the New York Times best-seller list. Rick Warren sells the ten-millionth copy of a Purpose Driven Life, even though it remains unreviewed by most major newspapers.
Cleveland becomes the sports capitol of the U.S. as the Indians and Browns compete for championships and the Cavs emerge in the fall of 2004 as the team to beat in 2005.
Kathryn Jean Lopez
Hillary Clinton wins…her second grammy (for Living History).
Al Sharpton demands a recount.
Fox News hires political and cultural commentator Pamela Anderson (seriously: She already has a column in Jane magazine).
Jonah Goldberg will meet a deadline.
Kathryn Jean Lopez is the editor of NRO.
Clifford D. May
Some exceedingly unlikely predictions for 2004:
Just prior to the Iowa caucuses, Howard Dean speculates that “the most interesting theory” he has heard lately is that Osama bin Laden is hiding in “the tribal territories of Texas” where, he tells Maureen Dowd, “this phony war was manufactured in the first place.”
Asked to comment, Madeleine Albright tells Morton Kondracke: “We’ve seen no evidence that would rule that out.”
Senator Fred Thompson moves from Law & Order to a new program, Chesapeake Baywatch, playing a lawyer-turned-actor-turned-politician-turned-actor-turned lifeguard.
NBC launches a new crime show, Law & Order: SUV. In each episode, Republicans driving Sports Utility Vehicles are arrested and sent to the slammer where they belong. The series is Michael Moore’s television producing debut.
Chris Matthews enters the Guinness Book of World Records by conducting the first interview in history comprised entirely of questions, no answers.
Barbara Walters conducts first postwar interview with Saddam Hussein. Asks: “Mr. President, if I may still call you that, if you were a Weapon of Mass Destruction, what kind of Weapon of Mass Destruction would you be?”
Dan Rather conducts second postwar interview with Saddam Hussein. Asks: “Mr. President, you’re being very patient with your time, and I want you to know I consider this a solemn moment in history, and, if I may, take time to have you speak to the American people about questions that I know are on their minds. I want you to know that I appreciate your patience here, and what I think we all want to know is: How are you doing really? Are you being treated well? Do you feel victimized by this process? What would you like to say to the American people? I apologize to the president for the candid and direct nature of my questions but I think it’s necessary to get right to the heart of the matter.”
Shocking photos of Howard Dean and Ann Coulter appear on the Internet. The Dean campaign calls it “a dirty trick.”
Bill Clinton endorses Dean.
Dean wins early caucuses and primaries in a landslide.
Dean chooses Wesley Clark as running mate. Floats trial balloons of Dean Cabinet-in-waiting: Al Gore at State, George Soros at Treasury, Rob Reiner at Defense.
Still stuck in third place behind CNN and Fox, MSNBC re-brands itself for 212th time, trotting out the slogan: “America’s Fashion News Channel.” Paris Hilton gets prime-time show: “Paris, Washington.”
MSNBC bumps Hardball to 3 in the afternoon.
Dean fires DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe, taps Barbra Streisand who causes a controversy by insisting key staff move to DNC’s Beverly Hills office. “A party running against Washington,” she says, “should not be based in Washington.”
Alan Colmes admits he’s a conservative. “Getting beaten by Sean every night has been my way of contributing to the movement,” he says. Adds that he’s hoping Ann Coulter finds him attractive. “Did you see those Internet photos of her with Howard Dean?” he asks. “Wowie zowie.”
In an attempt to soften his image, John Ashcroft makes a surprise appearance on Saturday Night Live. He announces: “We have a great show for you tonight–with special musical guest–Al Sharpton! Give it up for Al!
In an attempt to broaden President Bush’s support, Karl Rove books him for a special edition of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. Bush declares: “Marriage should be only between a man and a woman. But good grooming is for everyone.”
In an attempt to demonstrate that Saudi Arabia is genuinely on the path to reform, Abdel al-Jubeir tells Tina Brown: “Actually, my name used to spelled al-Jewbear. But I honestly didn’t know that till I was 19. Hey, I’m proud of my heritage. In fact I’ve had long talks about this with Madeleine Albright, Hillary Clinton, Wesley Clark, and John Kerry. And I’ve been invited to spend Passover with Joe and Hadassah.”
French Prime Minister Jacques Chirac, having banned Muslim headscarves and Jewish skullcaps, proves he is evenhanded by also banning a secular French symbol: Hermes scarves
Dean is defeated in a landslide.
Alec Baldwin moves to Brussels.
Dean threatens to emigrate, too. “Frankly,” he says, “I’m seriously thinking of moving to the Soviet Union.”
Al Gore becomes late-night radio-talk-show host. Stock price of Ambien sinks.
MSNBC bumps Hardball to 3 in the morning.
John Kerry joins the cast of Chesapeake Baywatch. Tells Rolling Stone: “Polls, shmolls. We’ll let the American people judge who looks better in a f***ing Speedo, Fred or me.”
Hillary Clinton becomes de facto Democratic-party leader. In a surprise move, asks Streisand to stay on at DNC. Photos of their kiss make a big slash on the front page of the New York Post.
John Hinckley attempts to impress Paris Hilton.
Jayson Blair gets exclusive interview with bin Laden. Dateline: Crawford, Texas.
Clifford D. May is president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and an NRO contributor.
President Bush comfortably carries the women’s vote (having lost it to Al Gore by 54 to 43 in 2000; Bush did narrowly win the majority of married women). The majority of women voters decide they like and trust George Bush and conclude that he’s determined to do everything possible to keep them safe from the terrorism threat. Democrats flat out can’t win without wooing women.
Bush wins an absolute majority–the last time a presidential candidate pulled this off was 1988.
Bush’s success is despite the fact that the Democrats nominate a moderate. (Dennis Kucinich could win the nomination by acclamation in Boston and the media would call him a “moderate.”)
The story line from the 2004 Olympic competitions is the security problems that plague the Greek hosts.
The U.S. looks for opportunities to cozy up to the Germans and isolate the French. John Miller’s book on Our Oldest Enemy provides the historical case on why France so richly deserves our animosity.
Osama is “brought to justice.” Most likely it’s a change from MIA to KIA.
Michael Jackson beats the rap–rich white guys always do.
Hillary does not run in 2004. Democrats look elsewhere for comfort and support–just like Bill.
Kate O’Beirne is NR’s Washington editor.
In 2004 at least two justices of the Supreme Court retire at last, and thank God. In 2005 Antonin Scalia, now chief justice, fails to produce a single dissent that the press characterizes as “stinging” or “caustic,” instead producing majority opinions that the press doesn’t know how to characterize–but that readers of NRO instantly recognize as majestic.
This is a sentence that’s destined to come back and haunt me, but I suspect that, absent some major catastrophe, 2004 will be a year when not much will seem to have changed. The war on terror will continue and so will the terrorists’ war on us, matters in Iraq will improve somewhat (although staging Saddam’s trial will prove more awkward than many now think) but American troops will still be there at year-end–and they will still be under fire. Elsewhere in the Middle East, the Saudi regime will persevere in its half-hearted efforts at “reform” amid ever-increasing signs that it is doing far too little, much too late. The Israeli/Palestinian impasse will drag on, bloody, toxic and ever more ominous. Bin Laden will not be found, but Mullah Omar just may be. Best hopes for a positive surprise: Iran and, thinking of recent developments in Libya, maybe even Syria.
In Europe, the EU’s draft “constitution” will refuse to die despite repeated attempts to kill it off. Buffy will be brought in to put a stake through its heart. She will fail. Jacques Chirac will still be in office, still annoying, still obstructive and still wondering why it is that his presidency has turned into such a disaster. And yes, Dominique de Villepin will still be at his side telling his master that it has all been a tremendous success. Tony Blair will hang on to his job, although not without a few nervous moments (most of them fomented by his Brutus, Gordon Brown, the chancellor of the exchequer), and the Tories, reinvigorated under Michael Howard, will, at last, start to cause him some real problems. Schroeder will still be chancellor in Germany, bailed out by a slowly strengthening economy, and Putin will be reelected in Russia, helped out by a slowly weakening democracy.
Back in the USA, Howard Dean will win the nomination, but lose his temper frequently and the election, once. Hillary Clinton will feel his pain–with enthusiasm. The GOP will, just, cling on to the House and the Senate. On a more serious note, Dr. Pepper will continue to be drunk and Paris Hilton will still be famous, in both cases for reasons that escape me. Happy New Year!
Andrew Stuttaford is an NRO contributor.