Ten 2012 predictions

You know the drill. Here’s what’s chiseled in Mayan-calendar-sized stone for the mind-warping year to come:

1.) Barack Obama will be defeated by Mitt Romney in a race decided by Michigan’s electoral votes and the popular vote of the working class, who will be on the losing end of even a slightly better economy. Romney will have no coattails. On the Libertarian ticket with Drew Carey, Gary Johnson will do surprisingly well in states Obama wins, fizzle in states Romney wins, and take New Mexico. Republicans will lose seats in Congress but anti-establishment conservatives and libertarians will see continued gains.

2.) The GOP will, yes, nominate Romney. Putting Mitt over the top will be the realization that if he isn’t nominated this time, he’ll run again in 2016 and probably again after that. People will remind themselves how well the spineless and coreless Al Gore did in 2000 against a candidate with less baggage and no record. Some delegates pledged to Romney will go rogue at the convention, but it won’t matter.

3.) In a surprise, Romney will turn for his running mate to David Petraeus, and Petraeus will accept. Obama’s foreign policy advantage will be gone. Panic over the stunning whiteness and maleness of the ticket will prove misguided; in every other way Petraeus is everything Romney is not. Marco Rubio makes Republicans feel great about themselves, but Petraeus will make Americans feel like the adult has finally walked into the room. The day the first Romney/Petraeus bumper stickers go out will be the last time anyone ever mentions Condoleezza Rice.

4.) Hillary Clinton won’t be Obama’s running mate. She wants to see him get his comeuppance, and keep herself clean for 2016; he wants to prove that he doesn’t need her to win; Joe Biden will have made it abundantly clear that evicting him from the White House will require a court order and a no-knock raid. Obama will remind him he doesn’t need a court order, and Biden will wiggle his fingers as if pretending to be scared.

5.) The economy will actually improve marginally, as the White House controls financial speculation by ensuring no expense is spared in the ongoing, open-ended bailout of Europe. This will outrage some Americans, but Obama will successfully emphasize that once again he has averted world disaster. Still, the economy will not improve for everyone, and though Obama’s base will grow his share of the swing vote will plummet.