December 15, 2008

Life on Planet Safire

080411_slide_mccain.jpg It must be nice to live on William Safire's homeworld, where "the business headline of the year" was "Big Bounce to 15,000 Dow After Soft Landing."

That, of course, was one of the NYTer's predictions for 2008, made just about a year ago. I've previously questioned the wisdom or running this ill-starred column every year, but since Safire insists on doing it, the only explanation can be that his predictions are actually coming true, if only on Earth Two.

So how was the rest of Safire's year? Not bad. Israel and Palestine finally worked out that two-state deal, after not one but three highly improbably facilitating events. US troop levels in Iraq are down to "100,000 and dropping steadily." Two books no one here has ever heard of were sleeper hits. And There Will Be Blood justly won Best Picture (defeating not No Country for Old Men, which wasn't nominated, but four films that, on our planet, went entirely unrecognized).

Whether the rest of the news from Planet Safire is good or bad depends on where you stand on other important issues of the day. For instance, if you hate the iPhone, you'll be happy to know that it apparently does not exist, and that instead, "'pod push-back' by music customers threaten[ed] Apple’s dominance of digital music space." Somehow, even if that happened here, I seriously doubt that particularly coinage would catch on.

How'd the 2008 election turn out? Let's just say history wasn't exactly made. It seems John McCain and running-mate Mike Bloomberg defeated the Clinton-Obama ticket on the basis of "character" and a winning theme of "nobody's perfect" (in Safire's universe, those are somehow not contradictory). The big issue of the campaign was taxes, but the election actually hinged on "a debate blooper." So I guess Bizarro Clinton told her sniper fire story there too.

Finally, Safire's alternate universe readers were directed to "lose this list." If only they had the same online newspaper archives we have here!

Posted by Daniel Radosh


Mainstream media creates a parallel universe through its continuous stream of fiction. For all we know Safire's predictions may be our current reality. Safire is the ultimate insider. He was after all speechwriter to Nixon, before-the-fact accessory to JFK's murder by the Bush Crime Family/CIA.

Trying to predict the "sleeper" fiction hit -- that is, the hit that could not have been foreseen as a matter of definition -- is probably a better use of column space than most of what Safire does.

Poor Safire. Think about how long it took him to transcribe the entire column form his Ouija-board chat with Nixon's ghost. All so that you can have something to post on your blog every year. (You don't think anyone else actually reads those predictions, do you?)


In No Uncertain Terms, by William Safire, page 61:
"[S]even bankers are said to run the Russian economy. Having made fortunes from their political connections during the breakup of the Soviet Union, they are now helping politicians friendly to them get air time on their media to win elections. Their system, modeled on that of the U.S. 'robber baron' monopolists... is called semibankirshcbina, 'rule of the seven bankers'."

cf. "The Capitalist Conspiracy"

In an alternate reality, then next year, maybe they would finally release "Hounddog", (Dakota Fanning), as it was shown at Sundance Film Festival, January 22, 2007, rather than all bowdlerized, chopped, hacked, sanitized and re-edited for all those with up-tight sensibilities. Maybe Fanning could finally win her Oscar. Heck, maybe David Morse could.

Or maybe AnnaSophia Robb deserves a win for best screen kiss in "Spy School" (2008). Filmed several years ago and released in the UK under the title "Lies and Spies", it has been held up for release in the U.S. until (as reported on IMDb), Inauguration Day. Could this be props for Obama's rumored million citizen spy corps?

But even without the presidential tie-in, "Spy School" stands on its own by virtue of the fine songs, "Fallen for You", "Somebody Sent Me An Angel", and "Macho Man", performed by Huckapoo.

His pick for Non-Fiction book was right on, although not, perhaps, for the reason he thought:

“American-Made: The Enduring (recurring?) Legacy of the W.P.A.,” by Nick Taylor "

Yet, the most epic non-fiction prediction prediction William Safire ever made, was the one he himself wrote:

"Every purchase you make with a credit card, every magazine subscription you buy and medical prescription you fill, every Web site you visit and e-mail you send or receive, every academic grade you receive, every bank deposit you make, every trip you book and every event you attend -- all these transactions and communications will go into what the Defense Department describes as 'a virtual, centralized grand database'."

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