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2008-09: Reflections and predictions

The year 2008 is rushing (or has rushed) to an end -- and not too soon. I'm looking forward to getting this one behind us. Now it's time to reflect on the events of the last year and fearlessly forecast what will happen in 2009.

Humpty Dumpty Year: 2008 was a Humpty Dumpty year. Humpty Dumpty fell off the wall, cracked his shell and is leaking real yoke. Is it too late for us to make an omelet out of this mess?

Heroes Of The Year: For the sixth year in succession (six too many) the heroes of the year are the young American men and women courageously serving our country in the Armed Services in Iraq, Afghanistan and other outposts around the world. Since the beginning of our invasion, 4,209 have died and 30,871 have been wounded in Iraq. In Afghanistan, 625 have died and 2,606 have been wounded. How can we have a truly happy new year until they're all safely back at home?

Person Of The Year: There was no more dramatic story in 2008 than the election of Barack Obama as our 44th president for all the reasons so well known: his race, his youth, his inexperience, his speech-making and his brilliance.

Statesman/Good Sports: John McCain and George W. Bush made most gracious statements the day Obama was elected, hopefully signaling the beginning of an era of less confrontation and more bipartisan cooperation.

Stupidity Award: The stupidity award for 2008 must be shared by two of equal stature and stupidity. Elliot Spitzer, Governor of New York was caught in a call girl scandal and is now ex-governor. (The call girl is still loose.) Governor Rod Blagojevich of Illinois got caught trying to cash in on his authority to appoint a Senator to take Obama's seat. He will soon be ex-governor. Don't politicians understand that somebody is always gunning for them and there are no secrets? Stupid, stupid, stupid. John Edwards was runner up in this category.

Fresh New Face Award: Sarah Palin wins the fresh new face award. She may not be an honor roll student, but she is most attractive, well dressed and certainly energized her party. She will be heard from again for a long, long time.

What Goes Around: This time they got him. O. J. Simpson has been convicted of armed robbery in a Las Vegas hotel and has been sentenced to 33 years in prison. O. J. was one of Fargo's most photographed visitors in 2008.

What Turns Around: Adios amigos. Thousands of Mexican immigrants (legal and illegal) in the United States have been heading back to their homes in Mexico because of our economic crisis.

In the prediction department, a quick summary. Last year I said "Look out world, Russia is bouncing back as dangerous as ever." You read about the invasion in Georgia. I predicted Mike Huckabee would be nominated for president by the Republicans. Not far off, but wrong. I predicted Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty would be the vice presidential nominee. He should have been but he wasn't. Then, even before the Iowa caucuses, I predicted that Barack Obama would be nominated by the Democrats over Hillary Clinton and Obama would be elected president. You need to respect that call. I predicted that Andy Rooney would run out of ideas and grumpiness and would retire. He ran out of ideas all right, but not grumpiness and is still plugging along -- give me a half point for that one (after all, I should know about running out of ideas and grumpiness). I predicted that the University of North Dakota would drop their "Fighting Sioux" nickname in 2008. Not wrong, really, just ahead of my time. That will happen in 2009.

Now the predictions for 2009 that you've been waiting for:

Pardon: In his last week in office, President Bush will pardon former Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska who was convicted of accepting and concealing over $250,000 in home renovations and gifts. The pardon will include a provision that Stevens can keep the money and gifts.

Bush In Retirement: When he leaves the White House, George W. Bush will become Commissioner of Baseball, a job he always wanted even more than the presidency.

Cell Phone: A new cell phone will be developed that will take your blood pressure -- thereby raising the collective blood pressure of our country.

Russia: At least one more outrage in 2009.

Duel: Fox's Bill O'Reilly and MSNBC's Keith Olbermann will mutually issue challenges to one another for the first duel on American soil in over 150 years. The duel will actually take place with lots of shouting, but no gunshot injuries because O'Reilly's shot will be far off target to the right and Olbermann's will be far off target to the left. Both will claim victory and will continue to smirk and sneer without further interruption.

Minnesota Senator: The Minnesota Senatorial contest is still in the recount process. In the end, Senator Coleman and Al Frankin will finish in a dead heat. There will be a coin flip, the coin will land on edge and former Governor Jesse Ventura will end up in the Senate.

You The Readers: You all, readers of this column will be blessed in 2009 by looking younger and getting smarter. Some of you will get so smart you'll stop reading this column for something more sophisticated (there are plenty out there). Bless you and Happy New Year to all.