The job of the columnist, to analyze, hector, philosophize or just press readers’ buttons, is a tricky one that requires great care. Miscalculations can leave one misunderstood, looking foolish and possibly pissing off people he never intended to. But it is when columnists enter the realm of prediction that they invite real danger, for unlike mere opinions, this is when they can be proven wrong. Since there are apparently few consequences to being wrong (Dick Morris still has a job), for my last column of the semester, here are some predictions (some good, some grasping at straws) of what will happen over the summer.
Those writing off David Bonior’s chances in the Democratic primary because he’s currently only polling at 11 percent are in for a surprise. Bonior will pull off a victory over Jennifer Granholm and Jim Blanchard. The effectiveness of unions (which are mostly backing Bonior) at voter turnout was shown in the come-from-behind victory of Sen. Debbie Stabenow in the last general election and they should be at least as enthusiastic about their longtime ally, Bonior, in the primary. And his new running mate, state senator Alma Wheeler-Smith, has the credentials and rhetorical muscle to help turn out liberals for the ticket. Republican boasts notwithstanding, he’s a good bet for the general election too. He’s someone liberals can be enthusiastic about, but who also attracts many voters who are often unreceptive to Democratic candidates with his few, but notable conservative stances (such as being pro-life) and an appealing populist message.
15th district congressional primary
The money and interest group connections cultivated during his 47 years in the House of Representatives give John Dingell the hands down victory over 8-year Rep. Lynn Rivers. Ann Arbor will support Rivers, but Dingell’s longtime Dearborn constituency won’t abandon him and the district’s other communities in Wayne and Monroe counties are ideologically closer to Dingell, which he’ll make sure to point out in endless ads. Also look for the reverse of 2000’s Democrats voting for McCain phenomenon: Republicans turning out to elect their preferred Democrat, the more conservative Dingell.
Will lose 100 games.
our next university president
This one’s more hope than expectation, but I’m betting on Madeleine Albright. Already affiliated with the University as a Distinguished Scholar at the William Davidson Institute, she’s a prominent academic and experienced administrator with useful government connections. Yes, I have no indication she’s ever been under consideration or if she’d even take the job. But how could we resist such a noted figure who would be great at drumming up alumni support, attracting other important academic figures from around the world and bringing in federal money. I’ve heard her leadership style can be overbearing, but I’m sure she understands how a university works. Also, stronger administrative control of University divisions may be warranted in light of incidents such as the blundering and insensitivity of the Department of Sociology, Department of Near Eastern Studies and Office of Multi-Ethnic Student Affairs in sponsoring a conference (Perspectives on the Muslim World: Unveiling the Truth) where the literature sold denied the Holocaust.
The United States will force Israel to give up its current effort to weed terrorists out of the West Bank. The United States will facilitate drawn out negotiations, but, after furiously lowering expectations for them, will participate only half-heartedly. Major concessions will be offered by neither side and the negotiations will fail. Suicide bombings will pick up again and Israel, noting the success of the April campaign at curbing them, will reinvade.
This time the United States will finally do the best thing possible for both sides by letting Israel end the cycle of violence by destroying the terrorist capabilities of the PLO/Hamas/Islamic Jihad. The Palestinian independence movement, free of the insulting claim that Palestinians just can’t help blowing up people trying to have dinner, will have increased support because of legitimate non-violent methods and convince Israel to grant serious concessions and make a Palestinian state possible.
Initial failure to curb violence in the Middle East and putting too much political capital in an unsuccessful attempt to convince other countries to go along with an invasion of Iraq will lead to major political embarrassment and an end to sky-high poll numbers. This will result in his ultra-conservative domestic agenda finally coming under real scrutiny and further damage his standing. He will blame the media for this.
These are just my best guesses. Because of personal preferences, I actually hope some of them are wrong. But right or wrong, like any good columnist, I’m sure I’ll be back to predict again.
Peter Cunniffe can be reached at email@example.com.