With apologies and thanks to William Safire.
1. The Supreme Court a) leaves ObamaCare in the political realm for now but leaves a future court room to ride to the rescue in 2015 by agreeing with the Fourth Circuit opinion on the Anti-Injunction Act b) upholds Arizona’s immigration law c) strikes down both ObamaCare and the Arizona immigration law, leading to a bipartisan backlash against the “new judicial activism” of the Roberts Court.
2. The nominee for secretary of state awaiting approval at year-end will be a) John Kerry, replacing Hillary Clinton for Obama’s second term b) Eric Edelman, nominated by President-elect Romney c) Thomas Donilon, following the path trod by Kissinger and Rice to State from NSC, but facing confirmation challenges over his Fannie Mae work d) John Bolton, nominated by President-elect Gingrich but facing a confirmation battle reminiscent of 2005.
3. The breakout nonfiction bestseller of the year will be a) Amity Shlaes’s Coolidge b) Allan Meltzer’s Why Capitalism? c) Jodi Kantor’s The Obamas d) David Gelernter’s After Americanism e) Steve Coll’s Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power.
4. The Republican ticket will be a) Romney-Rubio b) Romney and New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez c) Ron Paul and Rand Paul d) Romney-Ryan e) Romney and Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell f) Romney and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder.
5. The dictator to exit, dead or alive, in 2012 will be a) Bashar Assad of Syria b) Fidel Castro of Cuba c) Abdullah of Saudi Arabia d) Ali Khamenei of Iran.
6. The sleeper issue of the election year will be a) American decline, as U.S. athletes for the first time lose to China in total medal count at 2012 Summer Olympics b) energy, as conflict in Iran and Iraq lead to gasoline over $4 at pump during summer driving season c) debt and government spending, when a Treasury auction fails unexpectedly after soon after President Obama tries to match Mitt Romney’s tough talk on China.
7. Big business story of the year will be a) Facebook’s initial public offering b) Microsoft’s purchase of a large stake in HTC Corp. c) Doubling of New York Times Company share price under new CEO Gordon Crovitz d) Fortunes made as Congress legalizes, taxes online poker.
8. The European financial crisis a) Improves after Germany saves the day by getting the rest of Europe to do what it wants by threatening that if it doesn’t, it will leave the Euro and bring back the Deutsche Mark b) Worsens after a big German or French financial institution goes under, Lehman-style c) Neither improves nor worsens but drags on interminably d) improves after structural reforms in European Union political institutions as suggested by Radek Sikorski.
9) The big Securities and Exchange Commission story of the year is a) a first-ever case involving insider trading by a member of Congress b) a dispute with Steven Rattner over whether his paid work managing $5 billion for Mayor Bloomberg falls under the terms of his two-year ban on working as an investment adviser c) Major news organization’s investigation prompts congressional hearing, legislation on “revolving door” issue for former staffers.
When I tried this last year, the piece predicted, or at least raised the possibility of, the capture of Osama Bin Laden, Republican deficit hawks joining Democratic peaceniks to cut defense spending, and Joshua Foer's Moonwalking With Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything becoming a bestseller, all of which happened. The New Yorker’s George Packer also tried one last year, calling, or at least raising the possibility of, the winners of both the fiction Pulitzer and the Oscar for best documentary, as well as Glenn Beck’s departure from Fox News and Hosni Mubarak’s downfall in Egypt.
So hang onto your hats, and an early happy New Year to all.
Ira Stoll is editor of FutureOfCapitalism.com and author of Samuel Adams: A Life.