The crystal ball was blurry, but I'm not giving up

By Robert McCartney
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, January 2, 2011; C01

In my annual predictions quiz a year ago, I forecast that Adrian Fenty would be reelected as the District's mayor in 2010 after Vince Gray decided not to run.


I also goofed on at least two others, out of seven. I optimistically but inaccurately predicted that the Intercounty Connector would open on time in the Maryland suburbs, and that Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) would call a special legislative session to raise money for roads.

I only got three right. The accuracy of the seventh, on the Redskins' season, depends on whether they beat the Giants Sunday. (I hope they win but anticipated they'd lose.)

Undeterred by such a sorry record, I continue the tradition in the multiple-choice form flagrantly copied from the late New York Times columnist William Safire. My picks for 2011 are at the end.

1. In her new life after resigning as D.C. schools chancellor, Michelle Rhee will:

a) See her reputation crumble as revelations of troubles at Dunbar High School are followed by disclosure of other unflattering details about her record.

b) Marry her fiance, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, and settle down to a blissful, uncontroversial life as the city's first lady.

c) Easily raise hundreds of millions of dollars in contributions to her new education foundation from rich philanthropists who ignore signs that some of her reforms didn't actually work.

d) Host a reality television show about urban education on the Oprah Winfrey Network called "Putting Kids First."

2. In Virginia, the most dramatic political story will be:

a) Conservative Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) hunting for ways to keep his name in the spotlight when newly elected tea party favorites in Congress start hogging all the attention.

b) Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe striving to prove he's not a carpetbagger but a "real Virginian" qualified to run for governor in 2013.

c) U.S. Sen. Jim Webb (D) wrestling with himself over whether to run for reelection or return to writing books about feisty Scot-Irish populists.

3. In Maryland, the campaign to legalize same-sex marriage will:

a) Fail when it's blocked in the state Senate by a coalition led by rural legislators and African American church groups.

b) Win approval from the General Assembly and Gov. Martin O'Malley (D), but still be subject to a statewide referendum set for 2012.

c) Triumph gloriously and trigger a real estate collapse in Rehoboth Beach, Del., as gays depart for Ocean City.

4. Traffic congestion will worsen in the Washington region because:

a) The shift of thousands of defense jobs to Fort Belvoir and Alexandria's Mark Center will pile still more commuters onto I-95 and I-395 in Northern Virginia.

b) A stretch of the Intercounty Connector will finally open, but few people will use it, owing to exorbitant tolls.

c) Metro ridership will fall because of rising fares and failure to address reliability issues.

d) All of the above.

5. The most significant story out of Prince George's County will be:

a) Former County Executive Jack Johnson appealing to racial solidarity in the hope of attracting popular support in his defense against federal corruption charges.

b) The gradual discovery that U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein was bluffing when he said Johnson's arrest in November was just the "tip of the iceberg," as the prosecutor's case isn't nearly as broad or deep as he suggested.

c) The big push by Johnson's successor, Rushern Baker, to force the county to get serious about reforming its public schools.

d) Jack and wife Leslie Johnson's new reality television show, "Shakedown in the Suburbs," sponsored by Leslie's new line of lingerie, "for the woman with something to hide."

6. After his first full year in office, new D.C. Mayor Gray will be viewed as:

a) A transformational leader who forged a historic consensus between longtime city residents and young newcomers.

b) A likable, cautious policy wonk doing a pretty good job keeping the city moving forward despite acute budget pressures.

c) A disaster who's brought back Marion Barry-era mismanagement and financial crises just as Ward 3 feared.

7. Having learned the lessons of Snowmaggedon in 2010, the region's handling of 2011's winter storms will be highlighted by:

a) Impressive cooperation among jurisdictions, which smoothly and efficiently share plows, trucks and other equipment.

b) Minimal power outages for customers of Pepco, whose aggressive attention to maintenance is matched only by the utility's willingness to accept responsibility for any shortcomings rather than blame the region's allegedly overabundant trees.

c) Widespread popular applause for local authorities' decisions about when to shut schools.

d) All of the above

e) None of the above. (This one's a gimme.)

8. Having dumped classy quarterback Donovan McNabb and infantile defensive end Albert Haynesworth, the Redskins will:

a) Stun the region by going 10-6 and making the playoffs, as Coach Mike Shanahan proves the players just needed some time to learn his system.

b) Visibly improve but end up only 8-8 because they lack a franchise quarterback and the team overall is just too old.

c) Worsen to 4-12 as owner Dan Snyder can't help himself and starts meddling again, recreating chaos at the top. The American Psychiatric Association formally lists "Redskins fan depression" as a chronic medical condition.

My choices: 1-c. 2-a. 3-b. 4-a. 5-c. 6-b. 7-e. 8-b. Happy New Year!

© 2011 The Washington Post Company