Kurtz: Predicting the future is a mug’s game


Michael Kurtz, Columnist

To borrow Adele’s immortal, Oscar-winning phrase, “This is the end … hold your breath and count to ten.”

It’s time to grab the Kleenex — I’m leaving you, dear readers! This is my last Daily column, and I want to thank my editors Jeannette, Sammy, Joe and Caryn for improving my writing and always being remarkably patient. It’s been an intellectually interesting experience, and I hope that at least one of my columns has gotten you thinking, made you laugh or maybe even had you doing both simultaneously.

I started in this space with political prognostication — picking Mitt Romney in April 2011 to snag the 2012 GOP nod — and so that’s how I’ll end. Here are a few final predictions, straight from my crystal ball, about what’s to come over the next few years in American politics.

1. Paul Ryan won’t run in 2016. He keeps the speculation alive because it’s easier to make headlines when you haven’t officially closed the door on becoming POTUS, but his ambitions are more centered in Washington. Should the Republicans maintain the House of Representatives, as they are favored to, Ryan will become chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, which is the most powerful in the House and the committee that has jurisdiction over Social Security, Medicare and taxation (his passions). Moreover, there is a growing realization within the conservative movement that a narrow focus on fiscal issues – Ryan’s specialty – isn’t quite a winning national agenda. As Rich Lowry, editor of conservative flagship magazine National Review, admitted in a recent column, “The problem with the deficit as an issue is that people care about economic growth more, and the problem with spending cuts is that people like them more in the abstract than in reality.” And Gov. Bobby Jindal (La.), previewing a line of attack that you’ll probably hear from a number of ambitious Republican governors in the coming years, declared, “We seem to have an obsession with government bookkeeping. This is a rigged game, and it is the wrong game for us to play.” The latest edition of the Ryan budget, not that anybody still cares, is coming out in the next few days, and it balances in 10 years. This sounds nice in theory, but only means that there will be even deeper spending cuts for Democrats to pounce on. Ryan will still be an important player, but more as a Washington insider and alleged budget guru rather than presidential-candidate-in-waiting.

2. Gov. Chris Christie (N.J.) will win the GOP nomination in 2016, and basically begin running after he wins re-election in New Jersey later this year. He has been on the receiving end of some mildly embarrassing headlines lately, as he was not invited to the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C., and he has a surprisingly long list of true-conservative apostasies to atone for on issues ranging from accepting Medicaid expansion money to refusing to join the lawsuit that would have overturned Obamacare. Nonetheless, eight years out of the Oval Office will dull the Republican hunger for purity, and no one will have a more compelling story to tell than Christie, who will say that he won re-election in a solidly blue state (just as our country has a bit of a blue hue nationally) while still slashing benefits for public-sector unions and presiding over substantial private sector jobs growth. Look for him to select Gov. Susana Martinez (N.M.) as his running mate, to combat the image of the Republican Party as overwhelmingly white and male and campaign as outsiders who aren’t beholden to the ways of Washington, D.C. The interior west – Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona — is a region that went entirely for Bush in 2004 before swinging decisively for Obama in the last two elections. Moreover, it’s full of Mexican American voters such as Martinez, rather than Cuban Americans like Rubio, with whom she might be expected to connect. The days of all-white, all-male Republican tickets ended in 2012.

3. Barring some health problems, Hillary Clinton will run and win both the Democratic nomination and presidential election in 2016. I don’t care how non-committal her words seem in print. You simply don’t win 18 million votes in a hotly contested primary and then never try again. She has built up an enormous reservoir of goodwill during her term as Secretary of State and the Democratic donor class is absolutely primed to support her above anybody else, and in effect clear the field. She could well pick Gov. Deval Patrick (Mass.) as her running mate. He has no skeletons in his closet, maintains close ties to President Barack Obama and his political operation and possesses obvious credibility as a re-elected governor of a large state. In addition, as blacks are the electoral foundation of the Democratic Party, he could help boost turnout in key states such as Ohio, Virginia and North Carolina, to name just three.

Anyway, if any of this actually comes true, just remember that you heard it from that profound Daily columnist first. Writing this column has been an absolute pleasure, and thank you very much for reading!

Michael Kurtz is a Weinberg senior. He can be reached at [email protected]If you would like to respond publicly to this column, email a Letter to the Editor to [email protected].