The end of the year is always a treacherous time for columnists, for we know that our readers expect us to tell them what is going to happen next year. And not unreasonably -- after all, we specialize in forecasts. But year-end prognostications are particularly likely to be remembered, since they tend to be sweeping.
So I have decided to limit my risk by concentrating on one particular set of events that is sure to happen (one way or another) in 2008: The presidential nominations of the two major parties, and the outcome of the general election in November. You are free to tear out this column and hold me responsible for my blunders one year from now. Those who live by the sword must expect to die by it.
Take the Democrats first. Just now there are two major contenders for the nomination -- Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama -- and one somewhat more remote possibility, John Edwards. The winner, it is important to remember, will be determined by the outcome of the various presidential primaries, and not by the polls that are so ubiquitous these days. On that basis, my money is still on Hillary. It is true that Obama has been narrowing her lead in state after state (according to those polls), and that part of this is owing to her own rather cold personality. But the flip side of that coin is that nobody seriously disputes her basic competence. She has the kind of fortitude and determination that are among the first requirements in a president.
Obama is a more attractive personality, and the fact that he is black is a plus in a candidate for the Democratic nomination. His problem is that he is relatively inexperienced (he only entered the Senate, his first federal office, in 2005) and looks it. The American people would have no problem at all electing a black president (Colin Powell would have made it look downright easy), but they aren't likely to abandon all other criteria in order to do so. And Obama simply needs more seasoning.
Under these circumstances, the Democrats simply don't need John Edwards -- which is in many ways a pity, since he is an attractive candidate. They will therefore, I conclude, opt for Hillary.
William Rusher is a Distinguished Fellow of the Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy and author of How to Win Arguments .
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