Season's Greetings! This New Year's column comes with my apologies to the shade of the late, not altogether great Drew Pearson, a newster of another century who used to broadcast his Predictions of Things to Come in appropriately melodramatic fashion ("85 percent accurate!") when he wasn't advertising Bromo-Seltzer and such.
If you had to place him, you could say he was a few notches above notch above Walter Winchell, gossip columnist turned red-baiter of the more vulgar Joe McCarthy type, and all-around panderer to popular taste. In any ranking of broadcasters in radio's golden age, Winchell would come in far below the highly educated, superbly informed, tireless H.V. Kaltenborn, whose enunciation was so precise that many of us assumed he was foreign-born. (He wasn't.)
Mr. Kal-ten-borrn would become an historical footnote when his precise, teutonic pronunciation would be parodied by a high-spirited Harry Truman after his surprising victory over Thomas E. Dewey in the presidential election of 1948. (Both enjoyed a good joke.) Kaltenborn was the kind of newshawk who could spend all night tracing Herr Hitler's footsteps at Munich and then deliver a prescient analysis of just what that conference and sell-out meant and would mean for the world. Off the cuff. With his grammar as flawless as his reporting. If only today's anchorpersons were as elegant....
Today's column comes with wishes for a happy new year to readers who have charitably indulged my fancies on this page year after year. As for those less forgiving, here's wishing a Happy and Healthy 2014 to all! Which may be the only thing exact about these predictions of things to come in the new year:
Secretary of State John Kerry will join his Iranian counterpart in a toast to the successful completion of that country's nuclear-arms and long-range rocket program, explaining that it's really a great victory for international arms control. Much like North Korea's explosion of another nuclear bomb this coming year.
At some point in 2014, the first of Iran's nuclear-tipped rockets will lift off. In reply to those critics who contend that American policy had been nothing but a green light for aggression, the secretary will claim that this administration's approach to Iran would have been heartily applauded by leaders of the former state of Israel.
President Barack Obama will collect his second Nobel Peace Prize as the slaughter in Syria proceeds indefinitely. Not since the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s, when the Nazis and Communists competed at wiping out that country's civilian population has the world had a clearer warning of the suffering yet to come if it continues to do little but watch Syria's passion. What we may learn most from history is how little we learn from history.
Back home, Obamacare, aka the Affordable Care Act or the president's Signature Accomplishment, will continue to be fixed or repaired daily, and need to be. And it will begin to dawn on the various states that have accepted the bait that, as the feds require them to pay for more and more of Obamacare's costs, just dumping more and more patients into Medicaid won't solve that program's problems but may only aggravate them. The president will spend a lot of time in 2014 not talking about Obamacare in a futile attempt to erase his signature, indelible as it is, on his Signature Accomplishment.
Now that Harry Reid and partisan company in the U.S. Senate have done away with the filibuster as a way to keep some of the worst possible nominees out of some of the highest offices in the land, the rails have been greased. And a willful majority will lose no time confirming some of the president's more dubious choices for powerful federal office. It's already done so in at least one case. The new deputy secretary of Homeland Security, one Alejandro Mayorkas, is being investigated by that department's own inspector general, who raised concerns about his "alleged conflicts of interest, misuse of position, mismanagement of the EB-5 (visa) program, and an appearance of impropriety...."
That's quite a dossier for someone who's supposed to protect the security of the rest of us. But there's no doubting the new deputy secretary's close connections with the Democratic Party's power elite. More such confirmations are doubtless to come in 2014 now that the filibuster doesn't stand in the way. You have to wonder what Thomas Jefferson, who wrote the filibuster into the first congressional rulebook (Rule XXII) would think of what the political party that claims him has become.
The Robertsons of "Duck Dynasty" will run off with the Kardashians of High Society on a road trip that will be filmed in detail and billed as the ultimate in TV reality shows in a bid to outdraw "Survivor" and "Real Husbands of Hollywood."
Now that Edward Snowden, today's Man Without a Country, will accept both the Alger Hiss Memorial Award from the American Civil Liberties Union and the Stalin Prize from Russia during the coming year, using those occasions to explain how oppressive the American government is -- while continuing to enjoy the hospitality of Vladimir Putin, the not so former KGB thug and current tsar of the not so new Russia.
In short, 2014 will be as rich in ironies as 2013 was. So rich it would take another H.L. Mencken to do it justice, rather than just another