Happy New Year Hackaroos! Lord Gibbs and I wanted to kick off the year with a few musings and predictions about what we think we are all in for politically in 2022.
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Alright, enough plugs… let’s get to the predictions…
(Note: we’re not a pair of Kreskins here...
...and we have no idea who will win the Kentucky Derby… plus politics is a human behavior driven endeavor – therefore essentially crazy and hard to predict – but we do see a few patterns emerging that our experience has taught us to recognize…)
MURPHY: Team Biden is going to slowly twist on the hook over Build Back Better for a few more painful months. The “break it up into parts” pitch is not – for whatever reason – landing at the White House. It appears like the Senate Dems will stick with the slo-mo grind it out plan and try to pass a bigger measure than all-powerful Sen. Manchin will allow. The mega bill thing is dying on the vine, but the Dems just seem to be committed to the losing tactics of last year…
GIBBS: It will take a few more months, but by the end of the first quarter of 2022, Congress will pass a revised Build Back Better bill. The amount will be less than what was discussed last year and instead of doing a lot of things for a few years, the legislation will focus on doing a few things really well. In the end, Democrats of all stripes will see the legislation as a big victory and be pleasantly surprised at the provisions for action around climate change, which can’t come soon enough as 2022 will continue to be a year of shock and dismay at weather and climate disasters, massive ice sheets melting faster than ever, signaling the need to get serious fast before it’s really too late. Dems will see the overall policy impact of the bill as having been worth the long slog. What won’t be good though are the politics. Much like Obamacare in 2010, the November electorate won’t have much tangible to focus on as part of the legislative victory. While inflation improves and unemployment stays low, on November 8th, Republicans take control of the House as they gain 25-28 seats. The Senate is murkier and much closer. Whoever wins 3 of the four seats in Arizona, Nevada, Georgia and Wisconsin controls the body 51-49. And yes, there’s a very real possibility that if they split those races we have a 50-50 Senate once again.
MURPHY: Omicron, like earlier variants of COVID-19, doesn’t only infect people, it politically infects Presidents. It happened to Trump, and it’s happening to Biden (despite the fact that the Biden administration has been far more on the ball regarding properly fighting the pandemic). The political reality of COVID is just about no matter what you do you get blame and grumpiness, not love and appreciation. That said, there is hope for a fast decline; the milder Omicron is muscling out the more deadly Delta variant and there is some hope among public health experts that this next surge will be in a fast decline by mid-January. (There will still be a very serious overload in hospital capacity over the next few weeks.) The political hope for the White House is there is a chance of a spring recovery, as well as ramped up production of Pfizer’s game changing Paxlovid anti-COVID virus pill. Biden can realistically hope for a much better national feeling about the pandemic Hell we’ve all been going through by early summer. That could be a window for a bit of a Biden comeback; should the Dems be able to get their acts together. That’s a big if…
GIBBS: In late Spring, Justice Stephen Breyer, after serving on the Supreme Court since 1994, announces he will step down. A few weeks later, President Biden nominates Ketanji Brown Jackson of the U.S. Court of Appeals in DC. She had, coincidentally, taken the place of Merrick Garland when he became Attorney General in 2021. She is approved by the Senate with 53 votes. In the Summer, the Supreme Court fully overturns Roe v. Wade.
MURPHY: I think deep fakes – computer generated video scenes that look lifelike (think Jurassic Park dinosaurs) – are going to hit the campaign trail this year and become a Big New Thing. And since we humans are not biologically designed to un-forget things we see, even when told they are untrue, they may have quite the nasty impact this year as they crawl around the darker corners of the Internet. The press, of course, will go crazy over the most infamous ones, but they should… Deep fakes are the worst kind of lie and should be brutally condemned.
GIBBS: Internationally, things are dangerous and gloomy. By year’s end, more will be worried about Chinese aggression towards Taiwan than were worried about Russia invading Ukraine (Putin decides against an invasion). Cyberattacks from abroad will become more frequent. Hypersonic missiles become something we all learn a lot more about. French President Emmanuel Macron is re-elected while Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro and Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, both endorsed by Trump lose. One bright spot for the United States: the US qualifies for the World Cup and makes it to the quarterfinals before losing to Brazil.
MURPHY: I think Trump is in a slow, creeping decline and will be less popular/powerful in a year. A GOP takeover of the House (and perhaps the Senate) will likely be a comeback tonic for him in the longer run, but for most of this year I think he’ll become weaker and weaker. I know that’s not Beltway CW, but an underreported wave of data is showing that nearly half of GOP voters, while not howling Never-Trumpers like me, think it’s time to “move on” beyond Trump. They don’t hate him, but they’re tired of Trump’s sweat act and see him as a loser for the party in a general election. They are ready to point the GOP toward the future. It might be a grim, populist, Trump Lite-ish future (Senators Hawley and Cotton call your offices) but I think Trump is moving toward the rearview mirror among a majority of the GOP electorate. The pols, as usual, are a bit behind on this… always looking at the last war. We’ll see.
GIBBS: Trump starts the year stronger than ever among Republicans. Ralph Reed is right when he told Politico that “you could make the argument that he’s in a stronger position within the Republican Party today than he’s ever been.” (Murphy, bet you never would have predicted I would agree with and quote Ralph Reed!) For proof of the veracity of that quote watch the primaries in Ohio and Missouri. Or watch someone in David McCormick, who in virtually every other election would be comfortable enough in his own skin to run as a conservative businessman from the GOP, become a Trumper, calling on the advice of Stephen Miller and Hope Hicks. (Anyone want to predict how much he talks about his service in the George W. Bush Administration?!) The big problem for Trump this year won’t come at the ballot box or on the campaign trail. By year’s end, he’ll be under indictment for either tax crimes or for his actions on January 6th. Fret not Trump watchers, Steve Bannon will beat Trump to prison. What will all this mean for 2024? Read along this year and find out!
We’ll see you on Friday with even more predictions for 2022 (think Georgil-vania) plus our own post-Insurrection Day analysis and more!
Looking forward to having you all along for the ride for what is sure to be a wild 2022.
Murphy and Gibbs