Office Pool 2018

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In memory of the late William Safire, place your bets now on possibilities for the year ahead. Use the available choices or try writing in your own scenarios. Last year’s iteration anticipated the Patriots Super Bowl victory, the stock market rally, President Donald Trump’s Jerusalem move, and the departure from Fox News of Megyn Kelly and Bill O’Reilly.

1)   The surprise nonfiction bestseller is a) Donald Rumsfeld’s memoir of the Ford administration, When The Center Held b) Benn Steil’s The Marshall Plan c) John Lewis Gaddis’s On Grand Strategy d) David Levering Lewis’s The Improbable Wendell Willkie: The Businessman Who Saved the Republican Party and His Country, and Conceived a New World Order e) Yoram Hazony’s The Virtue of Nationalism.

2)   The “#MeToo” movement a) spreads from the media business to new high-profile cases in law firms and investment banks b) fizzles out as shock value declines and reporters who broke the initial stories take time off to complete books c) takes a new turn as prosecutors file criminal charges against some of the worst perpetrators.

3)   The Mueller probe a) brings charges against a family member of President Trump b) concludes with a report to Congress absolving the president himself of any crimes c) ends when Trump fires both Robert Mueller and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, replacing Sessions with a new attorney general who won’t recuse himself.

4)   The 2018 midterm elections conclude with a) Democrats taking over both the House and Senate in a repudiation of Trump reminiscent of the 1994 Republican Revolution against Bill Clinton b) Republicans holding on to control of both the House and Senate, thanks to a combination of gerrymandering and popular satisfaction with Trump-era peace and prosperity c) Democratic takeover of the House powered by dozens of women candidates running for office for the first time.

5)   The business giant to falter in 2018 is a) Apple, as battery-life problems afflict iPhones and consumers increasingly choose Android-powered devices b) Facebook, as new social science research links social media with unhappiness c) Amazon, as states go after the company for not collecting sales tax for its marketplace sellers d) Netflix, as streaming video services from Amazon and Disney/Fox make it less necessary.

6)   The big Supreme Court story of the year is a) Anthony Kennedy announces his retirement b) Court sides with the gay couples in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case c) Court sides with the religious baker in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case.

7)   The U.S. stock market a) has another year of double-digit gains based on Trump tax cuts and deregulation b) suffers a significant correction after Democrats take over both houses of Congress c) flattens out as Federal Reserve interest-rate hikes take away the punch bowl.

8)   The big health care story is a) national alliance of nonprofit or academic hospitals in effort to counter negotiating power of insurance companies b) Distributors AmerisourceBergen and McKesson are each bought by drug companies anxious about Amazon and CVS/Aetna c) surprise bipartisan alliance between Ryan-Trump Republicans and Sanders-Warren Democrats aiming to help balance the federal budget by squeezing drug company profits and physician pay d) unexpected breakdown or hack of electronic medical records system.

9)   The Trump Mideast Peace initiative a) flops after Palestinians reject it b) leads to an extensive new series of face-to-face negotiations but no final Israel-Palestinian deal c) is the key to White House legal arguments that special counsel Mueller’s pursuit of Jared Kushner must be delayed until the administration leaves office.

10)  The sports world is captivated by a) American and Canadian triumphs at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics b) a probe of the National Football League by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration c) A reinvigorated American League East baseball rivalry between Red Sox and Yankees teams that both have new managers.

Wishing you all a peaceful, prosperous, free, and happy 2018.


Ira Stoll is editor of and author of JFK, Conservative.