Column: This is the last column about Donald Trump you’ll get from me. (Maybe.)
Last year, as congressional elections approached, pundits offered a bold prediction: November would bring a “red wave,” a Republican sweep in the House and Senate.
“The bottom is dropping out for Democrats,” a CNN analyst declared confidently.
“Democrats, on Defense in Blue States, Brace for a Red Wave in the House,” a New York Times headline warned.
Republicans will try to bury the Jan. 6 report. It should be required reading for all Americans.
Fox News began showing a triumphant on-screen graphic with the words: “Red Wave Rising.”
Wrong, of course. When the votes came in, the GOP narrowly took control of the House, but lost ground in the Senate.
Democrats howled that the wave-riding pundits had either fallen for Republican propaganda or slanted their columns on purpose.
“The so-called ‘liberal’ media goes out of its way during every campaign to emphasize news of [Democrats] in disarray,” progressive writer Michael Tomasky charged.
But not everyone in the mainstream media rode along with the red wave theory.
My colleague Mark Z. Barabak, for example, never promised a GOP sweep. “It’s a fool’s errand trying to predict election results,” he wrote.
Ronald Brownstein of the Atlantic didn’t fall for wave-mania, either; he wrote that the election could go either way.
“The most likely scenario is a mere Republican ripple rather than a red wave,” G. Elliott Morris of the Economist wrote on the eve of the election.
And while we’re listing virtuous names, there’s also … me.
A few weeks before the election, I wrote that while Republicans appeared likely to win the House, “control of the U.S. Senate sits on a razor’s edge.”
Was I prescient? No, just cautious. I was following Barabak’s advice: It’s dangerous to make predictions, especially about the future.
I had learned that lesson the hard way in earlier elections when I made a few forecasts that were laughably mistaken.
This New Year’s Day column is normally my annual exercise in humility, a look back at where I fouled up during the year that just ended.
But in 2022, to my surprise, I made fewer boneheaded errors than usual — mostly by avoiding unnecessary guesses.
I did get some things wrong, of course.
In early November, I warned that candidates who endorsed former President Trump’s election denialism were about to sabotage the process.
“Just as in 2020, we’re in for a drawn-out election week, followed by election month — or even months,” I wrote.
Happily, I was mistaken. Most of the deniers who lost conceded quickly — in some cases, even gracefully.
The notable exception is Kari Lake, the GOP candidate for governor in Arizona, who’s still challenging an election she lost by more than 17,000 votes.
I was also wrong about Ohio when I wrote that the seemingly close Senate race between Democrat Tim Ryan and Republican J.D. Vance looked like a mirror of the nation’s political evolution.
Ohio turned out to be a reflection only of Ohio, a former swing state that is now reliably red. Vance won easily.
But if those were my worst bungles in 12 months, I’ll settle for them.
Since I was making fewer predictions, I had time to try out a new line of work: offering free advice to political leaders. Most of them ignored it.
In February, I helpfully gave Russian President Vladimir Putin a list of offramps he could take to avoid invading Ukraine. He blitzed right past them.
In December, I urged President Biden to send advanced ATACMS missiles to Ukraine. Thanks but no thanks, the White House said.
In September, I wrote that Biden had blundered when he announced that the COVID-19 pandemic was over. The president “needs to correct his message, and he shouldn’t wait for the midterm election to do it,” I wrote.
I’m still waiting.
I also got a few things right.
I noticed as early as April that Xi Jinping’s “zero COVID” policy was doing serious damage to China’s economy. “The juggernaut that once looked bound for global domination is slowing down,” I wrote in September.
In May, I profiled Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, whose brand of ruthless but efficient Trumpism has made him a rising star in the Republican Party. “Democrats should be worried,” I wrote.
And in September, I noted that Trump, with his never-ending hunger for attention, was an election-year problem for the GOP.
“When the debate is about Biden and the economy, that’s good for Republicans,” I wrote. “When the debate is about Trump, that’s good for Democrats.
“Trump doesn’t seem to understand that, but Biden and the Democrats do.”
Every time I write about Trump, I get complaints from readers — not only from Republicans who hate it when I call their former leader a threat to democracy, but also from Democrats who object that I’m giving him free publicity.
Here, as a gift to those readers, is my New Year’s resolution: fewer columns about the 45th president.
Don’t thank me. It will be a relief.
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