The year in preview 

Hammer’s 2008 predictions

Let’s face the facts. For most Americans, 2007 wasn’t a very good year. George W. Bush wasn’t impeached and arrested, the war in Iraq rages on with no end in sight, the economy still sucks and somebody other than me impregnated Jessica Alba.

But, for the first time since the rigged election of 2000, there are actually reasons to be optimistic as we enter a new year. No longer do we have to plan to escape to Canada and apply for political asylum. Things are starting to look better.

Assuming that Bush doesn’t cancel next year’s elections and appoint himself president for life — a possibility that can’t be discounted entirely, given his history — we only have to wait him out one more year and our long national nightmare will be over.

The Bush presidency has been a wrecking ball that has destroyed America’s faith in the voting process, the checks-and-balances system and any respect we might have had from other countries. He’s taken us from record budget surpluses to record deficits, allowed China to make us their bitch in economic policies and opened the vaults of the U.S. treasury to Halliburton and other big corporations.

He couldn’t have done much more damage to the world if he’d tried. But the good news is that, a year from now, he’ll be loading up moving vans and preparing to leave the White House.

That’s the best news about 2008. But there are other reasons to be optimistic about our short-term future. Here are some of my predictions for the new year.

• Mitch Daniels will be defeated in November. As one of the most undistinguished governors in state history, Daniels has acted like a mini-Bush during his first three years in office. He’s brought corruption, cronyism and favoritism back to the Statehouse after 16 years of absence. His list of accomplishments is so short that you could list them on a 3-by-5 index card and still have plenty of room to doodle. With voter outrage over the property tax system at record levels, he’s going to have a hard time getting re-elected unless the Democrats nominate a can of Campbell’s Cream of Chicken soup or a pair of left-handed scissors to run against him.

While you can never count on a rich Republican to not rig the votes, it looks like Daniels will go down in a landslide defeat in November. That’s good news for everyone.

• Either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama will be our next president. This is also good news for all people. While both candidates have substantial weaknesses, right now it looks like they’ll be running against another version of George W. Bush, whether it’s a direct copy of him (Mike Huckabee) or an indirect one (Rudy Guiliani). All the Republicans are promising is more war, more deficits, more misery and more suffering. It’s a very difficult task to make that sound appealing to voters.

With a Democratic president and Democratic Congress, the country can focus on fixing our biggest problems, such as the broken health care system, the crooked tax laws that favor the rich and the government handouts that favor the rich.

Only the Lord himself would be able to quickly repair everything that Bush has broken over the last seven years. But with either Obama or Clinton in the White House, the average American will have a better shot at receiving a fair shake.

• Mayor Greg Ballard will turn out to be a decent mayor. This prediction is going out on a limb, since our new mayor’s previous political experience consists of having watched the first season of West Wing on DVD. But I have faith that he won’t be as much of a disaster as his predecessor was. Since the big-money interests in the city didn’t think he could win, they helped him not one bit in his campaign. As a result, he owes them nothing. Ballard seems like a decent guy, albeit a nice guy who’s in over his head, so we probably can count on him to not mess everything up in his first year on the job.

Some other quick predictions: the Patriots will win the Super Bowl, the Pacers will make it to the second round of the playoffs, Manchester United will repeat as English soccer champions and American Idol will be won by a shy, slightly effeminate male singer.

While all of the above predictions are probably worth as much as you paid for this newspaper, my last prediction is guaranteed to be a 100 percent slam-dunk, sure thing:

It’s only going to get better from here. 

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