Friday, December 31, 2004

Final post of 2004

From me anyway. This is always supposed to be that time of the year when we sit back and reflect, but GipperClone has already done a pretty good job of that, and I have little to add. I suppose there is a reason he may have forgotten about the Sox, especially their great comeback against the Yankees.

Instead of looking back I choose to look forward. 2005 promises to be an eventful year politically. Not only will we surely have a contentious Supreme Court confirmation battle or two, but Republicans seem ready to charge full steam ahead with lower Court appointments. Judicial fights rarely are sexy enough for lots of coverage, but this could be much different. I think most people have caught on with the idea that there is a deep ideological schism when it comes to judicial philosophy. The left is largely out of power legislatively (though it does have a two-seat advantage in counting up all state legislative seats), and it needs to protect the judiciary in order to maintain some semblance of power. the right recognizes that now is the moment to reshape the third branch and halt judicial activism. This could be the biggest issue of the year.

The other issue of monumental importance is Iraq specifically and foreign policy more generally. Iraq will presumably be holding elections within a month, and how they are conducted and what results from it will go a long way in shaping how we deal with the Middle East. All eyes will be on Iraq in thirty days, for these elections might determine the future of out Middle East policy. God willing all will go well (or reasonably so), and we can build to building something stable in that region of the world. If not, well . . .

I also think 2005 will witness the continuation of what began after the election: Intra-party squabbling. Both parties came out of the election somewhat bruised and battered, though the Democratic party obviously more so than the Republican. But conservatives are also re-evaluating their position. While most of us glady supported President Bush and are extremely happy that he won, we remain wary about many of his domestic policy stances, in particular immigration (which David Frim predicts will rend the party more than any other issue). Moreover, conservatives are beginning to get antsy over neoconservative foreign policy, and though we appreciate the idealism therein, we hope to steer the foreign policy of our Nation in a more prgamatic direction. Don't get me wrong, I think the Iraq war was the right war at the right time, but we must be remain pragmatic and cautious. Before we extend our mission to Iran, Syria, or some other Middle East locale, we must internally explore what we hope to accomplish militarily and why. There has been some debate in the past few days between Michael Ledeen and others on the one hand, and Ross Douthat on this very score. Both sides seem to want the same thing, but have very different ideas about how to go about it. Democratization is a noble goal, but will it do what the neoconservatives think it will do to bring about stability in the Middle East? I think Douthat's skepticism is warrented and welcome. Look for more intra-ideological debate on both sides in the year ahead.

Of course the fight over Social Security, taxes, and spending will continue apace. Both intra- and inter-party battles over immigration will be faught. There will be some new reality shows, maybe someone will finally die on one of these things and networks will pause and consider putting something worthwhile on the air. The Patriots will win the Super Bowl, some team other than the Yankees (though definitely not the Braves) will win the World Series after Randy Johnson blows out his hip in the first round of the playoffs, and I will finish my dissertation. Okay, the last one is wishful thinking.

So that is all from me for the new year. It has been a year that for me was filled with many ups and some unfortunate downs. I hope that the next year brings us all much more happiness and security. God bless all of you, and see you in 2005.


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