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Commentary By Heather Mac Donald

The Year To Come

Economics, Economics, Culture, Education, Cities Immigration, Race, Pre K-12

New Year’s at National Review Online means cruel and unusual punishment: Making writers make predictions. And so here come 2009’s:

John Derbyshire
Afghanistan: The Karzai government will cut a power-sharing deal with the Taliban.

China: There will be widespread unrest and many demonstrations as the economy slows. The Chinese leaders will maintain control by general pump-priming, shoveling money at the worst areas, and some selective brutality, but not by devaluing the renminbi.

Tibet: Tibet, and majority-Tibetan areas outside the “autonomous region,” will be closed to foreign travelers ahead of the anniversary of the 1959 uprising in March. The Chinese will attempt a complete news blackout of the region. The anniversary of the 1989 student movement will, however, go almost unnoticed.

North Korea: Kim Jong Il’s military will depose him.

Russia: Will make trouble in Central Asia, the Caucasus, and the Baltic states.

Africa: Jacob “machine-gun“ Zuma will become president of South Africa. Zimbabwe’s inflation rate will pass the trillion percent mark, and thousands will die from cholera and malnutrition. Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe will make a speech at the African Union blaming all his country’s woes on Western powers. He will receive a standing ovation.

Latin America: Violence will flare again in Bolivia, bringing revolution and/or civil war in the nation one year closer, if it does not precipitate them/it.

Immigration: The Obama administration will stall on “comprehensive immigration reform,” hoping for better economic times when citizens won’t mind so much that illegal aliens are working here and using public services. Their overall strategy on immigration will be to keep radio silence on the topic. They really want amnesty — why would they not want 20 million new Democratic voters? — but this is not the time. Barack Obama’s illegal-immigrant aunt, Zeituni Onyango, will not be deported.

Education: Massive government funding of pre-K nursery schooling will begin, in the teeth of decades of evidence that it does no good.

The Executive: USAID will be upgraded to cabinet status.

The Economy: Unemployment will strike millions of private-sector workers, thousands of municipal employees, a handful of state employees, and no federal employees at all.

Leadership: The MSM will stay in the tank for Obama. He will be Time magazine’s Man of the Year again next year, unless he bombs New York City. Make that New York City and Los Angeles.

Physics: Dark matter will be observed under laboratory conditions.

Commemorations: Various multi-centenaries and -millenaries(?) will be celebrated with gusto by people who care: Abraham Lincoln, Charles Darwin, Edgar Allan Poe, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Samuel Johnson, Nikolai Gogol, John Calvin, Barry Goldwater, and the battles of Poltava, Corunna, and the Teutoburger Wald (“In A.D. Nine, Varus crossed the Rhine . . .”).

Publishing: I will publish a book.

Conservatism: Seasoned observers will swear they detect some last twitching convulsions in the corpse of American conservatism. They will not be believed.

— John Derbyshire is an NRO columnist.

Jonah Goldberg
The push for climate-change legislation will intensify as the Obama administration targets more dollars to “green jobs,” even though 2009 will be the coldest in years and the “temporary halt” of global warming will enter its second decade.

A New York Times front-page story will report that a panel of psychological “experts” has found that opposition to gay marriage is a mental illness.

Iran will announce it has a nuclear weapon (though it will be unclear if they’re telling the truth).

Barack Obama will denounce Iran’s news as “divisive.”

Iraq will continue to prosper (and the press will give Obama the credit), though fighting in the Kurdish north will grow more worrisome.

Rod Blagojevich will be sentenced to time served.

By the end of 2009, the biggest problem facing the U.S. economy will be rampant inflation.

The dollar’s weakness will cause liberals to argue for a merger between the dollar and the euro. All of the proposed names for the new currency will be silly enough to guarantee that the idea goes nowhere.

The Huffington Post and the Daily Beast will merge and become the Beastly Huffington.

— Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online and the author of Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning.

Steven Hayward
My predictions are usually wrong, but here goes:

As was the case in 1982, a rebound in the stock market will precede a turnaround in the economy (if there is one). Look for a rally to begin in the second half of 2009, unless Obama and the Democratic Congress adopt truly New Deal-style economic and regulatory policies, in which case watch for the Dow to drift down to about 5,000 by the end of 2009.

Wage and salary reductions will filter down to professional athletes by mid-year.

Obama will anger people on the Left with some of his appointments and his selection of a conservative pastor to give the invocation at his inauguration. Oh, wait . . .

This one is serious: Obama will talk a big game on climate change, but behind the scenes there is going to be huge infighting between his economic team and his environment-energy team. I predict Obama will side with his economic team, and the greens will be disappointed. The government will either enact a toothless climate policy or postpone action on emissions trading to 2010.

This one’s for John J. Miller: The Detroit Lions will complete the Motor City’s stunning turnaround by winning the Super Bowl in 2010.

—Steven Hayward is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and co-author of the annual Index of Leading Environmental Indicators.

Sometime in early 2009, through the discovery process in the Blagojevich trial, the recordings of conversations between the Illinois governor and incoming White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel will become public. The language of both men will prove to be so appallingly salty that someone will make a YouTube video perfectly syncing one of their more memorable exchanges to key scenes from The Sopranos. It will prove an amusing diversion for two and half minutes.

During a state-sponsored visit to Washington, Barack Obama will be repeatedly frustrated by his attempts to get to know Vladimir Putin on a personal level. Eventually he’ll suggest teaching the Russian leader how to play basketball. While Putin will prove unable to make so much as a lay-up, he’ll find that the techniques he learned becoming a black belt in the Soviet martial art of Combat Sambo are surprisingly effective for keeping the president from the basket. An injured and angry Obama will try to explain the concept of personal fouls, but while common on the basketball court, “trash talking” will elude the cultural sensitivities of Putin’s translator. A major diplomatic incident will ensue, and Homeland Security won’t lower the threat level from red to orange for two weeks.

Joe Biden will say something embarrassing and/or wholly inappropriate.

Just when the Hillary photo incident appears behind him, Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau will finally resign when photos of him drunkenly and far more graphically molesting a life-size cardboard cutout of Abe Vigoda prove a bridge too far.

The rise of the oceans will begin to slow and our planet will begin to heal.

— Mark Hemingway is an NRO staff reporter.

Kathryn Jean Lopez
The economy will get worse before it gets better.

The Freedom of Choice Act will not become law.

David Vitter will be a leading conservative voice in the Senate. It won’t be a bad lesson in renewal and redemption for the rest of us.

Bobby Jindal will work hard. Again, not a bad lesson for the rest of us — especially those tempted by and encouraging of the culture of celebrity.

Jeb Bush will run for Senate. Let it be a lesson to your youngest son. No shadow excuses.

Tina Fey will write a book.

Joe the Plumber will make it back into the news. Perhaps as Newt’s sidekick, with running-mate speculation.

The RNC chairman will continue to be a “Who?”

Alan Colmes will not replace Brit Hume.

Joe Biden will make Obama wish he went with Evan Bayh.

Barack Obama will surprise everyone.

— Kathryn Jean Lopez is the editor of National Review Online.

Heather Mac Donald
President Barack Obama’s $10 billion early-education plan will have exactly the same effect on the academic achievement, crime, and poverty gaps as the $7 billion Head Start program did, and the official reason will be inadequate funding.

The vaunted Republican-Hispanic alliance will remain invisible, and Los Angeles and California’s anti-free market, union-dominated politics will continue to roll across the national landscape with growing Hispanic majorities.

Uncle Sam’s green cars won’t move off the lot.

— Heather Mac Donald is the John M. Olin fellow at the Manhattan Institute and co-author of The Immigration Solution.

This piece originally appeared in National Review Online

This piece originally appeared in National Review Online