As I Please

Commentary by Tom Gregg       January 1, 2004

Out on a Limb

Everyone else does it, so why not me? That's right ladies and gentlemen, I proudly present my predictions for 2004, in the confident expectation that Time & Fate will saw off the rhetorical limb on which I am now perched:

National Politics

Howard Dean will capture the Democratic Party's presidential nomination. He will pick Wesley Clark to be his running mate.

Ralph Nader will run for president as the Green Party candidate.

In the general election, George Bush will be reelected with an absolute majority of the popular vote (51% to 49%).

The Republican Party will gain seats in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, cementing its claim to be the country's majority political party.

The GOP will not gain enough ground in the Senate to choke off Democratic filibusters.

US Economy

The current recovery will develop into a long-term economic expansion of the kind that occurred in the Reagan years.

The expanding economy will begin to generate new jobs. Unemployment will fall throughout the year.

Federal budget deficits will begin to shrink as the economic expansion causes tax receipts to rise.

Inflation and interest rates will remain low.

War on Terror

There will be several attempts by Islamofascist terrorists to mount a September 11-style attack on American soil, but they will be frustrated by US countermeasures.

Terrorists will continue to strike soft targets overseas, particularly in the Muslim world.

The US will obtain evidence of Osama bin Laden's death

Iran will come under increasing US pressure to halt its support of terrorist groups.

Increasing political instability in Pakistan will result in a change of government and a military confrontation with India.

Iraq War

The "resistance" in Iraq, deprived of its titular leader and, increasingly, of money, will begin visibly to falter.

The US and its allies will relinquish formal power to a sovereign Iraq government by summer. US troops will remain the country, but an improving security situation will allow the size of the force to be cut.

The outlines of a new political settlement in Iraq will begin to emerge: a weak central government with substantial autonomy for regions and religious/ethnic groups.

Iraq's weapons of mass destruction will be found or accounted for.

More evidence of Saddam Hussein's links with terrorist groups will be uncovered.

Saddam Hussein will go on trial before an Iraqi court for crimes against the people of Iraq. He will be convicted and sentenced to death.

Europe

Economic and political disputes will continue to frustrate progress toward European integration. The EU will grow increasingly unpopular with the people of all member countries.

In the UK, the Conservative Party will reemerge as a serious contender for power. The "special relationship" with the US and Britain's role in the war on terror will remain hot political issues with the potential to split the Labour Party.

Germany will seek to improve its relations with the US.

France, finding itself diplomatically isolated, will nevertheless continue its practice of attempting to frustrate US policies.

The German and French economies will continue to stagnate.

Wider World

North Korea's continuing drive to develop nuclear weapons will continue, and the crisis will not be resolved in 2004.

Tensions between China and Taiwan will produce a war scare, but not a war.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez will be overthrown in a popular revolt against his increasing authoritarian rule.

Culture

The drive for legalization of same-sex marriage will be frustrated by a popular backlash. More states will, however, legalize civil unions for homosexuals.

Michael Jackson and Kobe Bryant will beat the rap.

Scott Peterson won't.

No charges will be filed against Rush Limbaugh.

"As I Please" will continue to rise in brilliance and popularity.

And there you have it! We'll revisit these predictions on January 1, 2005--by which time I'm sure I'll have enough egg on my face for a fair-sized Denver omelet.

Best wishes for a happy and prosperous 2004!

Copyright 2004 by Thomas M. Gregg