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Commentary: Fearless forecasts for the future

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 3, 2010 - The 21st century is now 10 years old. Judging from its initial decade, we may be in for the bleakest 100-year stretch since the Dark Ages — although I will concede that the H1N1 virus appears to be a preferable alternative to the Black Death.

Of course, there are still those obdurate souls who insist that the new century really didn’t begin until Jan. 1, 2001. I could posit the counter-argument, which involves the retroactive application of the Gregorian calendar, but rather than put the readership to sleep, suffice it to observe that we didn’t “party like it was 1999” only to wake up with a 20th century hangover.

Like the Cardinals’ new hitting coach, I didn’t come here to talk about the past. Year-end retrospectives are a dime-a-dozen, and there’s little I can add to what has already been said. However, I would be remiss if I closed the book on 2009 without first acknowledging the unique contribution of Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) to the sorry state of our domestic political discourse.

The late Chicago columnist Mike Royko once defined an honest politician as one would “stay bought.” Indy-Joe, holding the critical 60th vote to close debate on the Senate health-care reform bill, has failed to satisfy even that modest criterion.

As recently as last September, he told the Connecticut Post that he strongly opposed the so-called public option for health insurance. In its place, he suggested allowing citizens 55 years and older to buy into Medicare early should they lose their private insurance.

In December, a draft bill containing that exact provision was proposed. This time, he appeared on CBS vowing to kill the entire health-care initiative unless the odious Medicare option was removed. He thus became the first legislator in living memory to oppose a bill because it contained the prerequisite he wanted in it.

As Hartford is to insurance what New Orleans is to cross-dressing, it would appear that the good senator’s home-state puppet masters pulled a few strings to rein in his philanthropic impulses. Joe, I know that politics makes for strange bedfellows, but there’s a name for people who will sleep with you for money.

With that final rant of ’09 duly vented, let’s proceed to my Fearless Forecasts for the Future:

Sports

The Indianapolis Colts will win the Super Bowl. Peyton Manning is the game’s best quarterback and his supporting cast is the league’s best team. I believe it was H.L. Menken who said, “The race does not always go to the swift, or the contest to the strong, but that’s the way to bet ‘em.”

The Winter Olympiad will be held. At some point in the proceedings, a pert, plucky American female figure-skater will cry. The Russians will win the ice dancing competition by general acclimation, although no one will be quite sure why. A Norwegian you’ve never heard of will do something remarkable on a ski slope. His name will probably be “Sven.”

Entertainment

“Up in the Air” will win the Oscar for best picture or George Clooney will win it for best actor, or both. The film’s subject matter is topical, and Clooney is Hollywood’s current golden boy.

Madonna will tire of adopting third-world orphans. Some combination of Lindsay, Brittany, Paris, Charlie and Tiger will enter various forms of rehab. Seeking to prolong the momentum of her interminable book tour, Sarah Palin will shoot a member of an endangered species then claim self-defense. Hugh Hefner will settle down with a set of 18-year old quadruplets, and Jennifer Aniston will fail to return my calls.

The Economy & Politics

Don’t be fooled by happy chatter about recovery — the only real way out of this mess is jobs and there’s damned few of those to go around.

Cap & Trade will die in the Senate as Blue-Dog Democrats from the Rust Belt will be reluctant to impose huge utility rate hikes on their constituents during an election year while the leaked “Climate-Gate” e-mails will furnish Republicans with enough fodder to cast doubt on the need for it. Al Gore and the forlorn polar bears notwithstanding, the North Pole will not melt.

The Democrats are cruising toward an off-year election beating of biblical proportions as Republicans prosper simply by not being at the helm while the ship of state negotiates rough seas. The Dems figure to lose control of the House and drop maybe five seats in the Senate.

When this happened to Bill Clinton in the middle of his first term, he was saved from his liberal impulses by a hostile Congress. Forced to govern from the center, he went on to become an effective chief executive. With a little luck, Barack Obama may do the same.

Happy New Year…

M.W. Guzy is a retired St. Louis cop who currently works for the city Sheriff's Department. His column appears weekly in the Beacon.

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