Franken: Seeing the future look like the past

  • By Bob Franken
  • Saturday, January 3, 2015 3:53pm
  • Opinion

It’s that time of year, folks — that is to say, the beginning, a time for totally worthless predictions. Well, maybe they’re not totally worthless, but they have approximately the same value as our annual set of resolutions, the ones we mostly break, doing further harm to our self-esteem.

Where do we start? How about the presidential race and what we can expect from those public figures who have far too much self-esteem, so much that they think they can be an effective leader of the free world (or as free as one can be in these times of constant surveillance). As we all know, 2015 is really just pre-2016, where the various candidates tell us what we already know, that they’ve decided to run.

Hillary is a lock. Come springtime, or whenever there’s a slowdown in her $300,000-per-speech bookings, she will declare in some sort of lavish ceremony that she intends to become the first woman/former first lady/former senator/former Secretary of State to become the nation’s chief executive, which would mean that Bill Clinton would be the first first gentleman/former president/former Arkansas governor/former Arkansas state attorney general. There will be those who believe that we should just cancel the campaign, that she will have, at that point, wrapped up her nomination.

Then there are others of the Democratic persuasion who are in the “Not so fast, Hillary” wing of the Democratic Party, AKA the progressives, who worry that she is far too cozy with the big-money people they believe are the root of all evil in this country. So here’s a less-safe prediction:

Elizabeth Warren also will announce. Yes, I know, she keeps insisting that she’s not going to, but that’s one of those things you say when you are. She’s certainly making all the moves, speaking out louder and louder against the aforementioned fat cats. Each time she does, she causes those who inhabit the left wing of the party to swoon, or at least holler “Run, Elizabeth, Run!” If she doesn’t, Bernie Sanders will. Don’t know Bernie Sanders? He’s the Socialist senator from Vermont, positioning himself to be the one who claims the ultraliberal ground if Warren really means she’s not interested. It’s a position similar to Joe Biden’s, who is waiting to see if there’s any chance in the world Hillary gets cold feet.

But enough about the Democrats, it’s the Republicans who have the more interesting possibilities, if you consider “grotesque” interesting. Ted Cruz is another certainty. He’s spent his every waking moment pandering to the “base” of the GOP. But first he’ll have to outmaneuver a wide range of hard-liners, other big names who clutter the right wing, from Bobby Jindal to Rick Santorum to Mike Huckabee to maybe Michele Bachmann (I kid you not), who are just itching to toss out their red meat.

And then, of course, there’s Jeb Bush, who seriously believes the party is hankering for someone who isn’t so ardently conservative. I have some land in Florida I’d like to sell him. But wait, he already owns land in Florida. If he’s right — actually, make that “correct” — then we could very well end up with a Clinton-Bush race again, leaving 320 million or so other people wondering what happened to the United States’ rejection of dynastic rule.

Oh, speaking of politics, there’s one other story we should cover, actually two: the remaining presidency of Barack Obama and the new Republican-controlled Congress. Here’s the prediction: Forget all the promises of bipartisanship; it won’t happen. We’ll lurch from crisis to crisis in Washington. In fact, we’ll lurch worldwide. That’s how things work now, which make us wonder why anyone would even want to be president.

Bob Franken is a longtime broadcast journalist, including 20 years at CNN.

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