Brace yourself; Flight 2012 is rolling down the runway

Tom WestFlight 2012 has been cleared for take off. Passengers are reminded to turn off your cell phones, laptop computers and anything else that may distract you from the terrors outside the window. Instead, we encourage you to re-assume the brace position, but only after donning your flight helmet, flak jacket and life preserver. If you both breathe and brace with all that stuff on, you won’t have any trouble making the entire flight.

And what a flight it’s going to be. Flight of Fancy Airlines doesn’t take you where you want to go or where we think you should go. We keep it interesting. This is where we think you will go, and this year we’re going to show you an honest-to-goodness miracle right up there with our Ladies of Fatima, Lourdes and Guadalupe. That’s right, you will see Barack Obama elected to a second term.

This will occur in spite of a sputtering economy, growing inflation in consumables like food and fuel (because Ben Bernanke doesn’t dare shore up the dollar this close to an election) and a foreign policy based on the idea that it would be good to let the imams running Iran to control the Mideast.

We’ll show you how the nomination of moderately conservative Republican Mitt Romney, darling of the GOP establishment, plays right into Obama’s hands. The final result will be: Obama, 47 percent; Romney, 45 percent; Ron Paul, 6 percent and others, 2 percent.

Here’s how it will play out. The Republican establishment wants Romney, but the party’s conservatives, including the T-Partiers, want blood. The establishment gives it to them, cutting down every conservative Republican in the field. That’s not what the conservatives had in mind since to them a Romney presidency looks decidedly similar to a Bush administration.

Meanwhile, Paul keeps running second or third in the early primaries as conservatives split their votes and then he finally decides to run as the conservative alternative to Romney on a third-party ticket.

Because the Supreme Court will rule in June that the Obamacare mandate, that everyone has to buy health insurance, is not permitted by the Constitution, Romney will avoid a deadlocked convention.

If Obamacare had been an issue, the GOP convention would have deadlocked, and given the nomination to somebody who decided they had better things to do in 2011 than hang out with Donald Trump.

Meanwhile, in spite of themselves, the Republicans will regain control of the U.S. Senate. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar will not be among the Democratic casualties. The race will be closer than expected, but none of the Republicans’ top potential candidates seem interested, so she will escape the general discontent of the voters.

She will also be ably assisted by the state GOP, of all groups, which normally prides itself on its fiscal integrity and strong family values. The party enters this crucial campaign deep in debt and sorting through the ashes of the personal scandal that brought down state Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch.

The Republicans will come up with the money, and Koch will be mostly forgotten by Election Day, but the DFL will still regain control of one of the two houses of the state Legislature. As with the Klobuchar race, now is the time that serious candidates put in place serious plans to run, and the GOP’s issues are distracting its recruiters and causing hesitation among top candidates.

Thus, at both the national and state levels, voters will end up with divided government, not yet ready to let the Republicans take an axe to government programs, nor ready to let the Democrats spend and tax the nation into fiscal oblivion.

The split between the parties will continue to be razor thin in Minnesota, in part because of the proposed constitutional amendment that will define “marriage” as being only between a man and a woman.

The amendment will pass, but the vote will be as close as Coleman-Franken and Emmer-Dayton.

But wait, there’s more.

No matter how many times we fly over the state capitol, you won’t see a vote taken on a new Vikings’ stadium this spring. As it has for a dozen years, the lawmakers will put off the vote until after the next election.

Will the Vikings still be here? Without a stadium deal, the chances are 50-50 that you will see them romping around southern California next fall. And if not, with the start of the 2013 legislative session, those chances will go up 1 percent every day the Legislature meets without voting.

The international leg of our journey will take us over Iran to see the aftermath of more mysterious explosions and meltdowns caused by cyberattacks from unnamed sources.

In sports, you will see the Gopher football team once again have a better record than the Vikings. In fact, the Gophers will go to a bowl game.

And we’ll take you to the NHL semi-finals with the Wild, to the WNBA finals with the Lynx and to the NIT once again with the Gopher hoopsters. However, our itineraries with the Vikings, Twins and Wolves will be nasty, brutish and short.

So keep those seatbelts fastened. It will be a turbulent flight from start to finish. And remember our Flight of Fancy motto: “A wing and a prayer will get you there.”

Tom West is the editor and general manager of the Peach. He may be reached at (320) 352-6569 or by e-mail at tom.west@ecm-inc.com.

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