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Political predictions for 2011

This year I decided to ask our staff and our consultants what their New Year’s predictions are for the political world. I will add mine at the end of this column, but we will start out with their views of 2011.

Richard F. Miller, military correspondent and military historian:

The economy: By the end of 2011, Americans will bless ourselves that we are not Europe or China. Unemployment remains at 9 percent and the economy remains flat, but the indicators are mixed. Both the economy and President Obama are flat.

The year will be a year of foreign policy disasters or opportunity. How President Obama deals with foreign policy will determine his electability. Obama could make miscalculations, or he could be on target. One of three things will happen, and they will be around the “axis of evil” or Russia. There will be trouble around the 38th parallel with North Korea, Hezbollah or al-Qaida becomes more aggressive pushing Obama into action or Putin decides to invade a former Soviet satellite state.

People will be quick to draw comparisons between Lincoln and Obama on the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

Bob Ney, former Republican representative from Ohio and Talk Radio News’ political analyst:

Bob predicts that the neo-cons want an attack on Iran. He says that, although Vice President Dick Cheney was successful in his invasion of Iraq, he never got what he really wanted, an attack on Iran. Now that they’re in control of the new majority, neo-cons (the Cheney crowd) will try to get “investigations going” that will lead toward ginning up more anger with Iran and build a case for “attack.”

Jay Goodman Tamboli, Supreme Court and legal correspondent:

I think a lot of the incoming tea-party candidates are going to have trouble adjusting to the realities of Washington. I predict that at least a couple of them are going to run into serious ethics charges. What’s coming out with Christine O’Donnell shows that the tea-party candidates don’t understand how the Federal Elections Commission and ethics laws work. I think the tea partiers are coming to Washington with an idealized view of how the government should work, and I think they’re going to have a lot of trouble adjusting to the realities of financial disclosures and lobbying rules. Someone’s going to slip up and take a fall.

Jack Rice, legal and international correspondent:

The liberal wing of the Democratic Party will be progressively alienated by Afghanistan. Some troops will start to leave in 2011, but the numbers will be too small. However, they have no alternative, so they will fall in line behind President Obama into 2012.

Justin Duckham, Pentagon and Capitol Hill correspondent:

As the White House undergoes a cabinet shake-up, one Republican senator will put an anonymous hold on key administration officials’ nominations, including the defense secretary or Treasury secretary.

Tea-party Sen. Jim DeMint will rise in prominence this year following his attention-grabbing stunts around the START Treaty and the earmark ban. It will be followed by serious 2012 talk.

Biden will buck the rumor mill and stay on as vice president.

The summer 2011 drawdown in Afghanistan will be much smaller than progressives would like and cause serious unrest in some Democratic quarters.

As Republicans become more lockstep and ideological, either Scott Brown, Lisa Murkowski or Olympia Snowe will pull an Arlen Specter and caucus with the Democrats.

Just as Chalabi was successful in using his group to get the eye of President Bush on Iraq, one terrorist group, the People’s Mujahedin of Iran, are listened to and beloved by the neo-cons, and they will have influence over policy.

Geoff Holtzman, congressional correspondent and news director:

Mike Bloomberg and Mitt Romney will emerge as the top two challengers to Obama in 2012.

Tala Towlatshahi, U.N. bureau chief:

The Turkish government will manage to persuade Iran to get back to the nuclear negotiation table.

Ellen Ratner, bureau chief

On the presidential race, I predict we will see Gov. Haley Barbour and Gov. Sarah Palin in the debates in New Hampshire and South Carolina.

The health-care bill will get a ton of hearings in the House of Representatives but will get nowhere. The House will attempt to cut off money for implementation of the bill but will not make much progress because the Obama administration will move money around.

The House and Senate will agree, even though there will be huge partisanship, on a jobs bill. The newly elected Republicans members will vote for an increase in the debt ceiling while holding their noses and complaining about spending.

President Obama looks presidential as he negotiates with Speaker Boehner. Minority Whip Steny Hoyer increases in influence with his party.

“Don’t ask, don’t tells” is implemented. Aside from a few stories in the mainstream press, it is a yawn, and no one cares by the year 2012.

Democratic members of Congress, who have lost their seats in 2010, will plan a strategic fight to take back their seats, mounting line-by-line objections to legislation that the winners are filing.

Check back with us next year, in 2012, to see how our staff and consultants have predicted.