It’s that time of year. Time to take stock of 2011, and prepare to ring in a much-welcomed 2012. For millions of Americans, the New Year can’t come soon enough, leaving behind a miserable era of leadership: by this Congress, this president, our college sports coaches, some doctors (see: M. Jackson), financial leaders -- the list seems endless.
But first, let’s get some early sports predictions out of the way, it’s not my strong suit, but, hey this is my column, and I feel good about the picks.
BCS National Championship Bowl: Alabama will once again go up against LSU in a clash of two titan college football teams. I have the Crimson Tide rolling over the Tigers to win the national championship.
Super Bowl: I have a good feeling about Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers and his deft throwing arm. While they won’t secure a perfect season (breathe easy, Miami Dolphins!), I believe the Packers will win another Super Bowl championship in classic Lombardi fashion.
Now on to the serious issues facing the nation in 2012.
Next year will culminate in a presidential election that I believe will mark the beginning of a political upheaval of both parties. Expect jarring aftershocks come November that will reverberate throughout the country well into 2013. What results from those elections in terms of what sets this country on the right path again is murky and unclear, like swamp water. But change is a comin’ and our elected leaders better pay attention this time.
A few observations that will set the stage, followed by my views on which leaders will rise and fall throughout the year:
Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton – Put simply, Secretary Clinton has been the consistently bright spot in an otherwise dimly-lit Cabinet. President Obama hasn’t exactly led the world on key economic issues (remember France’s Sarkozy lecturing the U.S. on fiscal responsibility?), but Clinton has been the steady hand on the diplomatic ship. I suspect she’ll leave the administration by the summer, but with some of the highest praise from the international community and diplomatic corps.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor - Mr. Cantor will continue to prove he is capable of leading his unruly band of House Republicans through the legislative traps Democrats will set for him. While I haven’t been so enamored with the internal politics between Cantor and Speaker Boehner, I do believe him when he says much of that is blown out of proportion. I see Cantor as a tour de force in 2012, a cavalier of sorts who is ready to engage Democrats.
Rep. Paul Ryan - Mr. Ryan has the Medicare Midas touch, and he’s going to need it. Medicare is going bankrupt. Ryan knows that, and genuinely wants to fix the program. Next year could be the time where planets align, parties set their guns down, and finally come together to enact some long-term solutions for the health care program.
Vice President Joe Biden – Let’s face it, Joe Biden jumped the shark soon after his successful VP debates against Gov. Palin. He’s had ample opportunities to lead (stimulus, debt panels, etc.), and has failed abysmally. He may well be remembered for his lucid and sometimes unwelcome candor, but not much else.
Rep. Nan Hayworth – Unless you’re roaming Washington’s halls, you may not have heard of this congresswoman, but she’s impressive. A medical doctor by background, Hayworth is a formidable legislator whose star promises only to rise next year as Obamacare prepares to be implemented.
Justice Clarence Thomas – The man is an oak. Period. As the Supreme Court prepares to hear key items in the President’s signature health law, expect Justice Thomas to be prominently featured and scrutinized. And yet his demeanor will not change on the bench. He will adjudicate and rule based on his strict constructionist interpretation of the Constitution. That’s all we should expect of a man so distinguished.
Rev. Billy Graham – For the latter half of the 20th century, this Baptist preacher from the foothills of North Carolina has been spreading the good news of the Bible throughout the world. He’s counseled presidents back to Eisenhower, all who seek his godly wisdom. And in the winter of his life, should he step onto the other side of the river Jordan, I suspect it will awaken a new era. America is so uniquely positioned for revival, and if it happens, it should commemorate the unimpeachable life of Billy Graham.
House and Senate – House Republicans will lose seats, but retain their majority. Senate Democrats will lose their majority to Republicans. The moves will result in the departure of both Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Harry Reid from their leadership perches. It will be time for new blood in the Democratic caucuses.
President Barack Obama – Obama will continue his federal empowerment plans through 2012. He will continue blaming the current statistics of the struggling economy on former Bush policies. The president will continue a class warfare and blame shift divisive campaign. If the Republicans can choose a complete opponent, President Obama will be defeated by a landslide.
If Obama somehow manages to save the economy, despite his ineffectual policies, we will get him for another term.
However if he fails and his gamble to save Europe fails miserably, it is likely that we will see a Republican in the White House.
The 2012 Presidential Race is Obama’s to lose, it is really that simple.
The GOP field – Look for former governor Mitt Romney to secure the GOP nomination for president next summer in Tampa. It will be a long, tough winter for the Romney campaign. He will lose Iowa to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. But he will right his ship and finish strong there, carrying his massive war chest to a win in New Hampshire, and doing well in the South. Perry will continue to fade and be out by the end of February, not for lack of money, but simply because he will have failed to catch any fire from conservatives. Speaker Gingrich is the new flavor of the month, but his past will continue to haunt him. And Democrats will simply be unable to control themselves, launching early salvos against him that should awaken Republicans. Gingrich won’t secure the nomination because the 2012 elections will not and should not be about a Republican. Instead, it should be about the failed policies of a Democrat – President Obama.