2005 was a year full of surprises. A long-feared, levee-destroying storm overwhelmed New Orleans. Two Supreme Court vacancies confronted the President. A new pope was elected. Britain subways were attacked. Americans fought over the feeding tube of a lone, brain-damaged woman in Florida. Fires raged in Paris suburbs. Alabama began a boycott of Aruba.
A year from now, what will we say about 2006? We can’t know, of course, but here are a few guesses.
The Texas gubernatorial race will be a spectacle. The incumbent, Rick Perry, will successfully fight off his challengers, but only after a tough contest. Other states will see similarly messy campaigns. In Ohio, Republican Secretary of State Ken Blackwell will be faced with bad press due to the many scandals of the outgoing Republican Governor, Bob Taft. Blackwell will nevertheless win election.
A surprising number of conservatives will not back Republican incumbent Rick Santorum in this year’s Pennsylvania Senate race. They have never forgiven him for his rabid endorsement of liberal Republican Arlen Specter in 2004, when Specter narrowly defeated his challenger, the more conservative Pat Toomey. Conservatives will abstain from voting in 2006, or they will vote for the pro-life Democrat challenger, Bob Casey, Jr. Ultimately, the Senate race will conclude with a Democratic upset. In New York, Richard Nixon’s son-in-law, Ed Cox, will challenge Hillary Clinton. He will win a larger-than-expected percentage of the vote, but he will lose as Clinton collects an unending stream of money from Hollywood. Republicans will maintain control of the Senate—but barely.
Samuel Alito will be confirmed to the Supreme Court, but the hearings will be much more vicious than expected. Another Supreme Court vacancy will arise. The President will once again fail to nominate Judge Michael Luttig or Judge Edith Jones, instead appointing Judge Karen Williams of the Fourth Circuit. The Senate hearings will be even more partisan and brutal than those for Alito.
The charges against Tom Delay will not result in a conviction, but the case will not be resolved in time for him to maintain his status as majority leader. His re-election bid in November will be hampered not only by the ethics charges, but also by his recent failure to admit that federal spending is out-of-control. Nationally, Republicans will lose seats in the House, but they will maintain their majority status.
The summer will feature several devastating Category Five hurricanes. New Orleans will be under water—again. Nevertheless, politicians will still lack the courage to admit that perhaps it is an irresponsible and wasteful use of federal tax dollars to rebuild some of the lower-lying portions of New Orleans. Republicans will be chastised endlessly for the actions of Mother Nature.
Liberal Democrats will continue to harp on the warrantless search program implemented by the Bush administration. They will avoid the legitimate public policy debate that should be had about the balance between civil liberties and national security, instead castigating Republicans incessantly and hoping that they can lay the groundwork for impeachment proceedings.
Iraq’s new government will continue to organize itself. Matters in Iraq will continue to progress. The media will continue to ignore positive stories about improved life in Iraq, instead focusing on negative, sensational stories.
Someone, somewhere will (unfortunately) disappear. Her disappearance will be covered for months on end on Greta Van Susteren’s Fox show.
Texas legislators will not be able to agree on a permanent school finance solution. This commentator will be disappointed that no good solution was implemented, but will continue to be relieved that, at the very least, we have avoided the imposition of the terrible solutions that have so far been proposed.