By Mark Shields
January 8, 2014
As the first (and maybe still the only) individual with a press pass to have boldly predicted that after his upset win in the 2000 New Hampshire Republican presidential primary, “President” John McCain would not seek a second White House term, you might think I would’ve been embarrassed into retiring my smoggy crystal ball. But as “Show Boat” taught us: “Fish got to swim, birds got to fly.” Add to that: “Pundits have to predict.”
During every month of 2014, a succession of elected Washington officeholders will tell us, “If we can put a man on the moon,” then we can a) reverse global warming b) overcome economic inequality and c) eliminate those pesky crow’s feet around the eyes.
I resolve not to take seriously any candidate running for public office next year who regularly misuses the following nouns as verbs: “dialogue,” “mentor,” “impact,” “staff,” “parent” or “friend.” While we’re on the subject, other objectionable words and phrases include: “proactive,” “incentivize,” “functionality,” “prioritize,” “it is what it is,” “that said” or “double down.”
I predict that just as the construction “marriage equality” effectively resolved the debate over same-sex marriage in favor of its proponents, there will be one memorable signature line from the debate over women in combat. Its speaker, retired Air Force Col. Martha McSally, in 1991 became the first American woman to fly combat missions. Her cryptic formulation rejecting men-only rules in combat: “So Justin Bieber can do it, but Venus Williams can’t?”
I resolve not to read any publication that includes any of the following articles: “Why Not Paying Your Federal Taxes Is Patriotic”; “The Gentle Side of Chris Brown”; “The Absolutely Best Nachos in the Upper Great Lakes”; A soulful personal testimonial from his “surviving” uncle — “My Wonderfully Thoughtful Nephew, Kim Jong-un.”
I resolve to urge both parties to adopt the “Sears Rule,” named for its creator, John P. Sears, who was Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaign manager in 1976 and 1980. Under the Sears Rule, on the eight Friday nights between Labor Day and Election Day, the presidential nominees of both major parties would each be given a half hour of free TV time, which could only be used by the candidate. Sears’ premise was straightforward: If a presidential candidate cannot be interesting and logical for a half hour a week, then for goodness’ sake, let’s find out before Inauguration Day.
I predict that Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., a leader of his party in the House, will correct a blogger who had mistakenly assumed the minority whip was a leather bar in the Bay Area.
With the president’s job rating in some national polls having dropped to just 40 percent favorable, 2014 Democratic congressional candidates will be introduced to a new oxymoron — which, of course, is the joining together of two contradictory terms, such as deafening silence or Republican moderates — “Obama coattails.”
Finally, let us resolve to seek and provide leadership that embodies the wisdom and humanity of the monk Thomas Merton, who wrote: “It is easy to tell the poor to accept their poverty as God’s will when you yourself have warm clothes and plenty of food and medical care and a roof over your head and no worry about the rent. But if you want them to believe you — try to share some of their poverty and see if you can accept it as God’s will yourself.” Happy 2014.
Mark Shields is a syndicated columnist and appears in The Logan Daily News on a weekly basis.