‘Spotlight’ This: Office Pool <br>Predicts Big Surprise <br>From Hillary Clinton

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In memory of the late William Safire, our annual advance peek at possibilities for the year ahead:

1) The big winner at the Oscars is a) “Spotlight,” for its mixture of nostalgia for the days of influential print newspapers and its depiction of Catholic priests as child molesters b) “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” as the Academy validates a runaway commercial success c) “The Big Short,” showing that, eight years later, America hasn’t really quite recovered from the financial crisis.

2) The big surprise at the Rio Olympics involves a) Cuban athletes attempting to defect to America but being turned away on instructions from the Obama administration b) an attempted terrorist attack that raises concerns about the growth of ISIS in the Western Hemisphere c) China winning some high profile victories over America, deepening the sense of pessimism about American decline d) America winning some high profile victories over China and Russia, feeding the resurgent tide of nationalistic pride being nurtured by the Trump presidential campaign.

3) The big drama of the presidential campaign involves a) Paul Ryan turning down Ted Cruz’s invitation to run for vice president so Mr. Ryan can remain speaker of the House. b) Senator Cotton turning down Donald Trump’s invitation to run for vice president so Mr. Cotton can leave open the option of a third party run. c) Hillary Clinton spurning Elizabeth Warren but nonetheless doubling down on gender diversity by choosing a woman running mate, Governor Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island.

4) The issue that dominates the presidential campaign is a) ISIS, as the refugee crisis worsens, terror attacks proliferate, and videotaped beheadings of Westerners are released on the eve of each presidential debate b) the economy, as American economic growth slows because of an unusually warm winter, low energy prices, and fears of what a Clinton administration would mean for the pharmaceutical industry and corporate tax reform c) the gold standard and monetary policy, as Hillary Clinton attacks Ted Cruz as a modern Herbert Hoover, and Cruz blames Janet Yellen and Stanley Fischer for crippling the economy with premature interest-rate increases.

5) Obama’s October surprise is a) an Alzheimer’s cure initiative unleashed in partnership with Nancy Reagan, Newt Gingrich, and Speaker Ryan, pre-empting one of Hillary Clinton’s campaign promises b) a “snap-back” of Iran sanctions accompanied by covert action after Tehran is found to be brazenly cheating on the nuclear disarmament deal c) an immigration reform deal with Speaker Ryan, preempting the possibility of a Trump presidency.

6) Obama’s post-election lame-duck surprise is a) a record number of pardons, mainly of minority non-violent drug offenders, to make up for the slow pace of them so far in his presidency b) a landmark nuclear deal with President Putin, announced at American University c) the opening of diplomatic relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia, announced at Camp David d) an American-mediated reunification deal between China and Taiwan, opposed by Republicans in Congress.

7) The Republican vice presidential candidate is a) Senator Cotton of Arkansas b) Senator Fischer of Nebraska c) the former governor of Indiana, Mitch Daniels d) Congressman Tom Cole of Oklahoma.

8) The nonfiction hit of the year is a) Charles Moore’s “Margaret Thatcher: At Her Zenith” (Knopf) b) Lawrence Lindsey’s “Conspiracies of the Ruling Class” (Simon & Schuster) c) “Maimonides, Between Philosophy and Halakhah: Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik’s Lectures on the Guide of the Perplexed” (Urim Publications) d) Barry Meier’s “Missing Man: The American Spy Who Vanished in Iran” (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) e) Lawrence Kudlow and Brian Domitrovic’s “JFK and the Reagan Revolution: A Secret History of American Prosperity” (Portfolio).

9) The business story of the year is a) huge profits reaped by those who bought energy assets at distressed prices, then watched oil double by year-end as OPEC cut back its pumping b) huge profits reaped by those who figured out a way to short-sell “unicorn” pre-IPO tech companies at unrealistically high private valuations c) huge profits reaped by those who bought pharmaceutical companies at values depressed by worries about Clinton administration price controls and exit taxes, then were pleasantly surprised when President Clinton didn’t, or couldn’t follow through on her campaign threats.

Save your answers for checking a year from now. We wish a peaceful, prosperous, happy, and free 2016 to all.

Mr. Stoll is editor of FutureOfCapitalism.com.

The New York Sun

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