With apologies and thanks to William Safire:
1. At year-end, the junior senator from Massachusetts is a) Deval Patrick, who stepped down from the governor’s office to run for the post to gain Washington experience in advance of a 2016 presidential run b) William F. Weld, who, as a Republican, finally wins the Kerry Senate seat he sought unsuccessfully in 1996 c) Republican Scott Brown, who makes it back to the Senate in a special election the way he did the first time around d) Victoria Reggie Kennedy, widow of Edward Kennedy, as Massachusetts joins California as a state with two women senators.
2. To replace Ben Bernanke, the Federal Reserve Chairman whose term expires January 31, 2014, President Obama will choose a) to reappoint Bernanke, whose zero interest rate policy (“zirp”) is credited with keeping the economy from slipping into recession despite the tax increases of 2013 b) to name Timothy Geithner, his former Treasury Secretary c) to make history by appointing Janet Yellin as the first woman to be chairman of the Federal Reserve d) Sorry, Lawrence Summers, it’s not going to be you e) appoint Bernanke’s MIT thesis adviser, Stanley Fischer, who is now the successful and widely respected governor of Israel’s central bank.
3. The nonfiction bestseller of the year (not including my own) will be a) Jeb Bush and Clint Bolick’s Immigration Wars b) Coolidge, by Amity Shlaes c) Niall Ferguson’s The Great Degeneration: How Institutions Decay and Economies Die d) Nicholas Kristof’s not-yet-sold, not-yet written e-book on gun control, an expansion of his post-Newtown-massacre column.
4. The most bitter confirmation battle will be a) Chuck Hagel’s nomination to be defense secretary, opposed by pro-Israel groups alarmed at his record b) John Brennan’s nomination to be CIA director, opposed by anti-waterboarding activists on the left and right c) Jacob Lew’s nomination to be Treasury secretary, unexpectedly mired in questions over his post-NYU, pre-Obama administration work for Citigroup.
5. The Supreme Court a) angers liberals by striking down the University of Texas’s race-based affirmative action admissions program b) angers conservatives by striking down parts of the federal Defense of Marriage Act c) angers liberals by letting stand California’s Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage d) angers liberals by striking down the ObamaCare mandate that Catholic institutions provide free contraceptives to their employees d) all of the above.
6. The intractable issue that finally gets tackled this year is a) school violence, as moms outraged by the Newtown massacre push a bill with increased mental health funding, school security measures, and, yes, limited but significant new gun control laws that win tacit backing even from the National Rifle Association b) immigration, as Republicans reach to give Senator Rubio a legislative victory to run on in 2016 c) climate change, after a nearly snowless Northeast winter and another Sandy-scale storm d) the debt and deficit, as better-than-expected economic growth, modest entitlement reforms and defense cuts, and a Boehner-Obama millionaires tax together diminish the problem e) none of the above.
7. The dictator to exit, dead or alive, in 2013 will be a) Bashar Assad of Syria b) Fidel Castro of Cuba c) Abdullah of Saudi Arabia d) Ali Khamenei of Iran. (This question was in last year’s office pool, too. Eventually at least one of them’s got to go, no?)
8. The big business story of the year will be a) Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. buys the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, and Boston Herald after the FCC repeals antiquated cross-ownership restrictions, or the News Corp. split means such restrictions no longer apply b) a surprisingly energetic new SEC chairman, Preet Bharara, launches investigations into the ties between short-sellers, their public relations firms, and prominent financial journalists c) confrontations between Senator Elizabeth Warren and bank executives d) recessions in Europe and Japan threaten to drag America down with them.
9. The winner of New York City’s 2013 mayoral election will be a) Joseph Lhota, the MTA chairman who was deputy mayor under Giuliani b) Christine Quinn, the City Council speaker, who would be the city’s first woman mayor and its first openly lesbian mayor c) Michael Bloomberg, who deems himself so indispensible that the city needs him for a fourth term, which he wins d) someone else.
When I tried this last year, the article predicted, or at least raised the possibility of, a Romney-Ryan presidential ticket and Senator Kerry’s nomination for secretary of State. So hang onto your hats, and early wishes for a peaceful, prosperous, happy and free New Year to all.