Pundit offers fearless predictions for coming year Office Pool, 1992

William Safire

December 31, 1991|By William Safire

WASHINGTON — MIKHAIL Gorbachev will be ousted by Yeltsin-Sobchak-Shevardnadze reformers following public revulsion after a bloody crackdown" was the prediction made in this space last year. Never mind that I recanted under pressure of television lights, or foolishly dismissed Norman Schwarzkopf as Ethelred the Unready; in the Nostradamus dodge, you remember only the time you were right.

Be your own pundit; astound your friends; time for the inimical, though much imitated, 18th Annual Office Pool.

1. The Nobel Peace Prize goes to (a) de Klerk and Mandela of South Africa; (b) Talabani or Barzani of Kurdistan (not to be confused with the new Kyrgyzstan); (c) Wei Jingsheng, the world's foremost dissident, still imprisoned in China; (d) James Baker for showing Arabs and Israelis that good corridors make good offices.

2. The U.S. economy at the end of 1992 will see (a) real growth under 2 percent with the Dow Jones industrials double-dipping below 3,000; (b) real growth over 4 percent with the DJI over 4,000; (c) 3 percent growth as per consensus, Dow middling about 3,300, and prime interest rate headed back up to 3 percent.

3. The first foreign leader to pass from history's stage will be (a) Cuba's Castro; (b) Britain's Major; (c) Iraq's Saddam; (d) Libya's Khadafy.

4. The most dramatic moment in the U.S. political conventions will come when (a) Jesse Jackson undermines Douglas Wilder with his ringing nomination of Tom Harkin; (b) George McGovern causes unending anguish at the Republican Convention by nominating Pat Buchanan; (c) Dan Quayle loyally refuses to dump his unpopular running mate; (d) Richard Nixon receives a welcome-back ovation.

5. The Russian leader who will be Time's Man of the Year is (a) Newsweek's Yeltsin, who will be laughing at those fainthearts who doubted the wisdom of free markets; (b) Vice President Rutskoi, conservative who will take over after the onset of free-market food riots; (c) Leningrad Mayor Sobchak, who will carry reform's banner if Yeltsin loses heart; (d) Gorbachev, who will also appear in Nixon's "comeback box" at the Republican Convention.

6. Sleeper best seller of the year will be (a) Michael Crichton's Japan-bashing novel, "Rising Sun"; (b) Gay Talese's family memoir, "Unto the Son"; (c) Martin and Susan Tolchin's controversial "Selling Our Security"; (d) Steven Weinberg's "Dreams of the Final Theory."

7. Freedom will overwhelm authoritarianism next in (a) Iraq; (b) Singapore; (c) China; (d) North Korea.

8. The use of force will be universally deplored when (a) India takes out the Pakistan bomb facility; (b) Israel removes Saddam in delayed repayment for the Scuds; (c) the U.S. finds Khadafy's tent with a smarter bomb; (d) Iraq attempts the final solution to the Kurdish problem.

9. America will be proudest of herself for (a) establishing a "Capitalists' Corps" to show former Soviet republics how to prosper; (b) repudiating the nativist resentment against immigrants; (c) developing an acceptable middle ground on the abortion issue; (d) leading the world into astonishing breakthroughs in neuroscience and genetics.

10. Scandal of the year will be (a) BCCI-Lavoro investigators turn up the political connections; (b) the revelations from the KGB and Stasi files involving Western politicians; (c) sex and politics at a high and low level; (d) corruption in the Bush administration.

11. Gov. Bill Clinton's running-mate will be (a) Bob Kerrey, who will never tell another joke; (b) Sam Nunn, for foreign-policy ballast; (c) Jay Rockefeller, to trumpet the health-care theme; (d) Al Gore, in payment for stopping the last-minute Cuomo movement.

12. Election results: (a) Bush in a 60 percent landslide, Republicans gain majority in Senate; (b) Democratic upset with decisive one-party government for the 90s; (c) respectable win for Bush, but Democrats narrowly retain Congress; (d) squeaker for Bush, Demos gain in Congress, political paralysis in store.

13. Mind-boggler of the year will be (a) U.S. military action in October; (b) GATT collapses, trade war breaks out; (c) Germany flexes muscles, takes over Europe; (d) terrorists get a nuclear bomb; (e) China convulses, goes democratic.

My picks are 1a, 2b, 3b, 4d, 5a, 6c, 7c, 8a, 9 all (my pools, my rules), 10b, 11a, 12c, 13e. By playing now you earn the right to hoot at the pundit next year.

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