Monday, December 31, 2007

Looking Back / Looking Forward

This has become an annual tradition here; looking back at the predictions I made a year ago:

– George W. Bush will still be president. He’ll still be staying the bloody course, and he’ll be defensive, antagonistic, and petulant towards Congress. There will be a flurry of investigations, court fights over subpoenas, hearings on TV, expressions of outrage and high dudgeon from both sides as accusations of “partisanship” and “non-cooperation” are traded back and forth. The Democrats will try hard to make their mark as the Do-Something 110th Congress and will have their fair share of grandstanding and stupid mistakes from their own members.

Wow, nailed that one, although I have to say it was pretty easy; the past fortells the future.

– The Democrats will be down to three serious contenders for the upcoming Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards. Second tiers will be Bill Richardson, Wesley Clark, Joe Biden, and someone we’ve never thought of who will catch fire briefly over the summer and get some face time on TV. Dennis Kucinich becomes this year’s Gary Bauer; no one at the national level will take him seriously, but he has a dedicated core of supporters who will keep chanting his name.

– The Republicans will still be scrambling to find someone who is both right wing enough to satisfy the Talibangelistas, moderate enough to get votes in places where the Democrats have now got a foothold, and not be a holdover from the current administration. I haven’t a clue as to who that will be…and neither do they.

Got that one right, too, except for Wes Clark, and “catch fire” candidates seemed to come from the GOP this time around; e.g. Fred Thompson. As for the candidate with the “dedicated core of supporters,” that honor goes to Ron Paul, who can raise money and take over blog threads like nobody’s business but can’t get over 3% in the national polls.

– Iraq: same shit, different year. As far as the administration is concerned, the ISG will go the way of the 9/11 commission; thanks for everything, now please go away. There will be more deaths, more outrages, and yet no one can offer anything more than just more of the same, and it’s looking more and more like 1969 all over again in terms of the anti-war movement: it’s not just for peaceniks anymore.

More’s the pity that I got this one right, too. The surge may be working, and I’m in favor of anything that could bring stability back to the country that we fucked over, but still 2007 was the bloodiest year in American losses since the war began and that makes whatever political advantage a presidential candidate of either party may take away seem craven. And the American electorate has made it very clear that they want the war to end; their disgust with Congress has more to do with their worrying about nasty campaigning than not getting the troops home.

– I have no idea what trendy new things and buzzwords will pop up and who will gain their immortality for fifteen minutes. As someone once said, “The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits.” Prepare to be amazed.

Paris Hilton (still), Sanjaya, “w00t,” iPhone, “bacon” (as opposed to spam), “wide stance,” dead Anna Nichole, etc. etc. I wasn’t really amazed unless you count thinking that some things really don’t change, including our obsession with the trivial, and that never ceases to amaze.

– At least one anniversary of note is coming up in 2007: the 40th anniversary of the release of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by the Beatles. There are very few cultural icons that came along in my lifetime that actually changed the way we look at music. That’s one of them.

Tom Brokaw is already all over celebrating the 40th anniversary of 1968, which I will remember for a lot of different reasons, and which I will be sure to cover in the coming year.

– I do predict I’ll make it through another year without getting a BlackBerry. I hope.

Yep, made it. Whew.

– Personal predictions: I’ll keep writing, both as a blogger and as a novelist and playwright. That’s all I can promise on that score. My job will continue to be a source of satisfaction on both a personal and professional level because I have really good people to work with. We’ll have our moments of Bob-level rants, but that’s what makes it interesting. The Pontiac will slowly be restored and by this time next year it might even have a new paint job. The Inge Festival in April will be great, so will the shows at Stratford in August, and there might even be a production of something I wrote by the time December 31, 2007 rolls around.

The blogging abides, including joining several other blogs as a contributor; The Reaction, Pax Americana, and Shakesville. I’m grateful for the opportunity to write for these august bodies and regretful that I don’t get over to them as often as I would like. As for my job, there have been some changes there, with people I deeply care about moving on to new positions (but still within a phone call or a pop-in to say hi), and new friends at the office who have made working with them a pleasure, especially since they appreciate my sense of humor. The Pontiac still runs and is well-tended to, but nothing new done except a good cleaning and a battery-monitor added to keep it charged. The William Inge Festival was great, and this year will be even better when we honor Christopher Durang. I’ve already got my tickets for Stratford in August, including Christopher Plummer in Caesar and Cleopatra. As for my hope that there will be a full-stage production of one of my plays, I missed that by a little more than three weeks.

Okay, let’s move on to my predictions for 2008:

– A Democrat will be elected president and the Democrats will increase their numbers in the House and Senate. Yeah, that’s an easy one; the trick is, which Democrat and by how many seats? If Hillary Clinton is the nominee (and the Iowa caucuses are three days away), then it will be a close race against whomever the GOP finally lands on and the shitstorm of negative, childish and outrageous campaigning from them will make everyone reel in disgust. If it’s not Hillary Clinton, the shitstorm of negative, childish and outrageous campaigning from them will make everyone reel in disgust. Which means that the GOP will go ballistic on anyone, even if they choose to nominate someone who isn’t a cross-dressing thrice-married adulterer, a sluggish and thuggish good ole boy from Tennessee by way of Law & Order and Curly Sue, a flip-flopping automaton with magic underwear and a rather odd way of packing a station wagon, a war hero who thinks being a maverick is sucking up to the current administration, or a folksy former governor from Arkansas who sells himself as a “Christian leader” and lumps gays in with pedophiles as “aberrant.”

So it’s time to go out on a limb here and predict that it will be President-elect Hillary Clinton when I write this piece a year from today, with a strong majority in the House, ten more Democratic senators, and a whole new cottage industry of right-wing nutsery in full bloom. George W. Bush will retire to Crawford to watch someone else clear his brush. He will grant interviews to fawning sycophants from Newsweek and Time and portray himself as the next LBJ without the charm.

– We won’t be any closer to getting out of Iraq, and at 12:01 on January 21, 2009, it will become the Democrats’ war.

– We will continue our obsession with the trivial. Several more white women will disappear and get coverage on Larry King Live, while no one will notice when it happens to countless other people who aren’t beautiful or packing diapers in the back seat. More and more politicians will be caught with their pants down, literally and figuratively because they are human; the fun stuff is when it happens to people who have made a living demonizing those whose practice they are emulating.

– A lot of famous people will die and there will be nostalgic memorials to them, and a lot of not-so-famous people will also leave us and touch us personally. The trick is to appreciate them while they’re still here. I’m happy to report that my immediate family is well and healthy, but I know that my close friends have lost those near to them. They will never be remembered in the New York Times, but that doesn’t lessen the grief or diminish their worth and the joy they brought to us.

– Personal predictions: I’ll finish Small Town Boys, and I’ll actually get to work on the restoration of my Pontiac station wagon. These are repeats from two years ago, but I’m really determined to get both done this year. Small Town Boys is on Chapter 49, and I might have enough saved up to actually get to work on the Pontiac, which will celebrate its 20th birthday in February.

– One year from now I’ll write a post just like this one, look back at this one, and think, “Gee, that was dumb.” Or not.