Wednesday, April 09, 2003

Political Predictions for 2003-2004

As Baghdad falls, here are my predictions for the next 18 months.

American and British troops will quickly corner and destroy the remnants of Saddam Hussein's forces in the central majority-Sunni Muslim region of Iraq. The Iraqi army turns out to be as much an out-gunned, ill-organized and politically unpopular force as the Taliban. However, the Americans find no such weapons of mass destruction despite vain attempts by the Bush Administration to spin or simply fabricate the evidence. By Christmas, Iraq falls out of the focus of the American media to the same degree as Afghanistan has now.

The invasion of Iraq proves to be too successful for President Bush. Like his father, he quickly loses his war time peak of popularity as the American economy falters. North Korea cuts a deal to avoid becoming Bush's election year tactic of mass distraction.

Possible wildcard scenario: another major terrorist attack on American soil causing two cross-currents: a rallying around President Bush coupled with strident criticism that Bush's war has made Americans no safer. Ugly and polarized political warfare ensues.

As the war winds down and disappears so does Howard Dean's peace candidacy. Politics as usual returns. The Democratic nomination race returns to form: only those who raise the most money by the end of 2003 end up in contention. Only John Kerry, Richard Gephardt, and John Edwards have the fundraising juice to place in this money primary. The junior senator from North Carolina is the only one of the three with the charisma and television presence to springboard from his prowess with money into winning the nomination.

Presidential Election:
"Are you better off than you were in 2000?" asks Democratic nominee John Edwards. Nation generally says no amid rising unemployment, corporate scandal and bankruptcies, and glaringly obvious Bush tax cuts for the rich. No third parties impact the race. Edwards becomes the Democrat to finally ride the long-term secular realignment in favor of the Democrats with a skilful, focused race that - Clinton-like - exploits Bush's weakness on the economy. Democratic core constituencies rally hard behind Edwards as hungry for power as the Republican base was in 2000. America ends up with another southern Democratic moderate President who can actually keep his pants on around interns.

Let's see how the prediction stands up over the next year and a half.


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