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Humbled by 2008, the news of 2009

There are two kinds of forecasters: those who don't know, and those who don't know they don't know. — John Kenneth Galbraith

So, how about Hillary Clinton being elected president in November, when she beat Rudy Giuliani?

That's how I predicted things would turn out in my first column of 2008. I believe my exact words were: "She's unstoppable."

Let's see, what else was I wrong about? John McCain, not Giuliani, won the Florida primary and the nomination.

The Tampa Bay Rays, bless 'em, won more than the puny 75-80 games I so cautiously predicted.

And only one named storm hit Florida in 2008, not zero. (Fay actually hit us four times, but let's just count her once.)

Hey, I wasn't totally wrong. I called Clinton as the Florida primary winner, predicted the Rays would withdraw their stadium proposal, that same-sex marriage would be the hot social issue, and that the Dow would crash before year's end.

But, heck, why dwell on the past? Let's match predictions for the coming 12 months:

1. Number of games the Rays will win in 2009: (a) under 70 (b) 70-80 (c) 80-90 (d) be repeat AL champions?

My answer: (c) The Evil Empire strikes back.

2. The group studying a new Rays stadium will choose a site in (a) St. Petersburg (b) the Gateway area (c) Tampa (d) it will not choose a site before the November election.

My answer: (d) Why complicate the election with actual issues?

3. The Florida Legislature will solve the state budget crisis by (a) a new tax on services (b) a state income tax (c) borrowing and stealing from other funds just enough to get by (d) reducing the community-college salary of House Speaker Ray Sansom.

My answer: (c) It's the Florida way.

4. The number of named storms that will make landfall in Florida in 2009: (a) zero (b) one (c) two (d) whoa, Nellie.

My answer: (c) Hope I'm wrong.

5. Whom of the following will not run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Mel Martinez? (a) Alex Sink (b) Bill McCollum (c) Jeb Bush (d) someone from the Legislature.

My answer: (b) Unless Jeb runs.

6. The next mayor of St. Petersburg will be (a) Bill Foster (b) James Bennett (c) Scott Wagman (d) Rick Baker, pulling a Michael Bloomberg.

My answer: (a) Or, heck, maybe (b).

7. The Dow Jones average will finish 2009 (a) below 8,000, demoralized and stagnant (b) above 10,000, cheered by late-year leading indicators (c) above 13,000 in a renewal of irrational exuberance (d) in negative numbers.

My answer: (b) I mean, it's gotta get better, right?

8. The average U.S. price of regular unleaded gasoline at year's end will be: (a) $1.59 (b) $0.79 (c) back over $3 (d) $6.50.

My answer: (c) After enough people buy big new cars.

9. The biggest fight between Gov. Charlie Crist and the Legislature will concern (a) Seminole casino gambling (b) insurance (c) taxes (d) robbing the state's tobacco trust fund.

My answer: (a) Not that the Seminoles are gonna stop.

10. Veteran readers will recognize that the format of this annual column is stolen wholesale from my role model (a) Garrison Keillor (b) Thomas Friedman (c) William Safire (d) Ellen Goodman.

My answer: (c) I liked it especially when he channeled Nixon.

Humbled by 2008, the news of 2009 12/31/08 [Last modified: Thursday, January 1, 2009 2:10pm]
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