In her omniscient narrative voice, George Eliot says in Middlemarch that prophecy is the most gratuitous form of human error. It is an insight on which I frequently had occasion to reflect over the past year as virtually everything that I thought would happen in 2008 proved to be wrong. Duly chastened, I offer the following predictions for 2009, in order of decreasing certainty.
1. Barack Obama will not wait for his inaugural speech to invoke Abraham Lincoln. He and his family will travel by train from Philadelphia to pick up Vice President-elect Joe Biden and his family in Wilmington. The president-elect and his group then will make a stop in Baltimore before making their way to Washington — you know, like Lincoln. Obama, however, will not disguise himself to travel from Baltimore to Washington.
2. In his inaugural speech, Obama will invoke both Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt. In doing so he will not couch the references in a false humility. I leave open the question whether he will echo Virgil’s Fourth Eclogue and proclaim the return of Justice and the arrival of a a new breed of men sent down from heaven.
3. On a feels-like basis, at least to conservatives, the first year of the Obama administration will constitute a full first term. We will have occasion to recall National Review’s one-sentence editorial a week after Lyndon Johnson’s inauguration that the editors’ patience with the Johnson administration had been exhausted.
4. Mitch McConnell will be the most important Republican leader; Rush Limbaugh will be the most important conservative spokesman.
5. President Bush will maintain a discreet silence regarding his successor while he works on his memoirs in Texas. If he speaks about President Obama, it will be to lend support or offer praise.
6. Some enterprising member of the mainstream media will report on the astronomical increase in the money supply engineed by the Federal Reserve in 2008 and inquire how the Fed will prevent hyperinflation when monetary velocity resumes a normal level.
7. Roland Burris will fill the Illinois Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama.
8. No Senator will be seated from Minnesota before the conclusion of an election contest.
9. The mainstream media will agonize over the anti-democratic implications of the Senate filibuster.
10. The Fairness Doctrine — whose origins lie in the Roosevelt administration’s treatment of the Yankee Radio network in the 1930’s — will not be revived by the Democrats.
Well, I had to stretch to get to 10, but I have one final prediction. Unlike my 2008 predictions, at least one of my 2009 predictions will prove to be correct.
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