“Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows …”
And who knows what will come to pass during 2008? Not me, but I’m ready with my annual predictions, proven to have a level of accuracy slightly above that of a random number generator.
This is the year of the big one — the presidential election. With the Republican nomination essentially up for grabs and the Democrats still in flux, predicting the nominees, much less the eventual winner, is problematical.
Imagine the NFL without a single good team, much less a dominant one. No Patriots, no Colts, no Cowboys, no Packers — just an entire league of Dolphins, Cardinals, ’Niners and Broncos.
That’s the sad state of the Republican Party, whose candidates are all too flawed to be nominated, much less elected.
Rudy Giuliani, with his three divorces, shady business dealings and lib’rul tendencies? Mitt Romney, with his unashamed flip-flopping on the issues, lib’rul past and transparent fibs? Mike Huckabee, with his crackpot beliefs (evolution’s all wrong — and let’s quarantine AIDS patients)? Fred (I’m still sleeping) Thompson? John McCain, who might be both too old and too cranky?
How can you handicap such a field? It’s a horse race full of broken-down nags that can barely trot, let alone gallop. In such a contest, you go with the alpha horse — the one who’s ready to nip, kick and bully to ensure his dominance.
And that’s gotta be the famously nasty Giuliani, who, during the schoolyard brawl to come, will leave his rivals bleeding in the dirt.
Things are a little clearer on the Democratic side, where Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have the race to themselves, with John Edwards a distant third.
Hillary has the organization, the experience, Bill at her side and a certain ruthless competence. Obama is a transformational figure, a man whose nomination and election would change the country forever. If this is, as many observers seem to believe, a momentous time in history, then Hillary is Stephen A. Douglas to Obama’s Abraham Lincoln.
Will Democrats have the courage to roll the dice with Obama or will they try to get a third term for Team Clinton? Will they ignore Hillary’s negative poll numbers and assume that she can beat any nominee fielded by a weakened GOP?
I think that they’ll listen to their better angels and nominate Obama, who will choose a westerner as his running mate (Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano? One of the Bills — Ritter or Richardson? California Rep. Jane Harman?). Regardless, he’ll win.
Here in Colorado, Democrat Mark Udall will oppose Rep. Bob Shaeffer in the race for retiring Sen. Wayne Allard’s seat. There are 150,000 more registered Republicans than Democrats in the state, so, all things being equal, the GOPsters should prevail.
But all things aren’t equal.
Unaffiliated voters outnumber both Democrats and Republicans, and polls say that a majority of their votes will go to Udall. Colorado’s own mini-Karl Rove, Republican Party Chairman Dick Wadhams, will try to pin the “Boulder Liberal” label on Udall, but in the ancient Chinese calendar this is the Year of the Donkey.
Closer to home, Mike Merrifield will easily be re-elected, as will the ineffectual darling of the anti-tax right, Doug Bruce, and the rest of the local Republican legislative delegation.
Incumbent U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn and Jeff Crank will duke it out for the Republican nomination, with Bentley Rayburn playing spoiler. Normally, the incumbent would prevail but the residual bitterness from the 2006 campaign and Lamborn’s many missteps have put the nomination up for grabs.
Crank squeaks in — and stays in office until 2032, playing the seniority card to become Colorado’s first Speaker of the House … can’t wait for all of that pork, Jeff!
Nationally, the fallout from the subprime lending crisis will continue. Housing prices will fall and new home construction will stall, affecting a wide range of industries. The national economy will go into recession, despite the Federal Reserve’s increasingly desperate maneuvering.
But here in Colorado Springs, our economy will remain comparatively buoyant.
Retail sales will be strengthened by troops returning to Fort Carson and the local real estate market will begin to recover. By year’s end, real estate investors will start breaking ground for projects associated with Fort Carson’s continuing growth, further stimulating the economy. And downtown will finally see construction start on the long-anticipated, long-delayed Cooper Tower, which will, when completed, be downtown’s tallest building.
The Bentley is arguably one of the coolest, most expensive cars in the world. At present, two Bentleys are occasionally seen parked in our fashionable downtown. My prediction: a 50 percent increase, to three. We’ll withhold the names of the present Bentleyites, as well as that of our preferred candidate to increase the count … but you know who you are, Sam.
In sports, the Nuggets will come close, but not close enough, as will the Avalanche. The Broncos, coming off from a dismal season, will have an even more dismal season. The Rockies will once again get to the World Series and — I can see it now! — leading the Yankees 7-4 in Game 7, A-Rod comes to the plate in the bottom of the ninth, bases loaded, two out, 3-2 count, he swings, there’s a long, deep drive to right center, the center fielder goes back, back to the warning track, leaps high for the ball and … he makes the catch!! …or did he? We’ll see.
But best of all, lifting our spirits to a level last experienced during 1957, Colorado College’s hockey team will win its first NCAA championship in 51 years, beating Denver University in the championship game at the Pepsi Center.
And even better — I’ll be there, just as I was in ’57.
John Hazlehurst can be reached at John.Hazlehurst@csbj.com or 227-5861.