The Year Of Smarm

We’re already 20 days into 2011, so it seems pointless to look back over 2010. I thought, however, I’d take a second to look back at what I said last year, throw out some parting thoughts about 2010 and look ahead to 2011.

I was right about the economy improving without jobs. I was a little off on the election — the GOP took the House. Sarah Palin did not begin to fade, although I see her star waning now. My sports predictions weren’t too bad — at least the Colts and Rangers made the final. My foreign policy predictions were way off: Iran seems stronger than ever and Afghanistan is still a mess. But I was right that it would be a so-so year in TV and film. And I was right about science. We saw a fantastic year in science, including several knock-out blows delivered to the anti-vaccine nonsense.

When I look back at 2010, what really crosses me is the sense of smugness so many seemed to radiate. There were so many people making smug smarmy remarks from false confidence. It was a year when people who were wrong about everything loudly and arrogantly talked about how right they were. No one exemplifies this more than the aforementioned Palin, whose every speech drips with condescending sarcasm and arrogant ignorance. But she wasn’t the only one. Bad climate skeptics proclaimed Global Warming to be dead based on incorrect analyses of Climategate and an inability to read declarative English sentences such as “this study on ocean level rise has been withdrawn in favor of studies favoring more ocean level rise”. Tea Party critics dismissed legitimate concerns about the direction of the country, branding the Tea Partiers as racists and extremists. Pro-torture advocates ignored the established record of civil trials and proclaimed civilian justice was a failure in the wake of Ghailani trial. And, in the sports, the Sports Media Twerps were as arrogant, condescending and wrong as ever — ranging from OSU arrogantly asserting that their eight home games proved their toughness to the HOF voters covering up their complicity in the steroid scandal by refusing to vote for suspected users.

It was a frustrating year, but one we could see coming. I said 2009 was the Year of Fantasyland. No one is more smug than the person who is being proven wrong day after day.

2011 is shaping up to be a year of reality. It will be a year when the Tea Party is going to have to actually govern instead of complain. It will be a year when the free markets, free trade and regulatory sanity will be absolutely critical. It will be a year when we have to shrug and grimly put our shoulders to the boulder. I think this will happen. Because I am, at heart, an optimist.

Specific predictions:

  • Sarah Palin’s influence will continue to decline. By the end of the year, there will be serious questions about her Presidential bid. We’ve already seen the facade crack in the conservative commentariat turning on her. It’s going to be interesting to see who wins control of the GOP. Will it be the religious nuts or those beholden to them (Palin, Huckabee, Pawlenty)? Will it be the sane conservatives who actually want to govern (Christie, Daniels)? Or will it be the talk radio idiots? My optimism the sensible guys win this one. And as they do, more of the dunderheads will come back to sanity.
  • Obama will have to take the lead on the budget battle. There’s simply no other way. Expect tax reform to be a big part. As far as 2012 goes, Obama will not be challenged from within the Democratic Party, no matter how much they bitch about him. This is especially true if his poll numbers rise because…
  • The economy will show more and more signs of life, with unemployment slowly coming down. Any predictions go out the window, of course, if Congress crashes the debt ceiling. And I’ll go ahead and make a 2012 prediction: if the economy improves and the debt comes down, Obama will be re-elected easily.
  • In sports, I already said Patriots over Bears, a prediction now halfway wrong. But I’ll also say Red Sox over Phillies, a big-time playoff flop by the Miami Heat and another year of parity in college football. Maybe this is the year that TCU makes the championship game.
  • Movies? Ugh. When your most anticipated movies include Green Lantern, a pointless remake of Red Dawn, X-Men 75, Captain America, Cowboys and Aliens and host of pointless sequels (Scream 4?, Transformers 3?, MI4? Why, God, why?) … well, I think I’ll spend a lot of time catching up on my netflix queue. Source Code might be interesting. And I think Thor may surprise us (Joe Straczynski is involved). And yes, I’ll have my 2009 year-in-film up soon.
  • TV will continue to stink.
  • Science will continue to rock.
  • Oh well.

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