7. Guantanamo Stays Open, but Cuba Goes Free
One of the key promises President Obama made immediately after taking office was to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay that housed and mistreated some 300 suspected terrorists during the Bush years. Attorney General Eric Holder has called Guantanamo “an embarrassment”—but between logistical woes and Republican demagoguery on where suspects can be safely transferred, scores of Bush-era detainees are still on the island. Further, the White House’s system of categorizing detainees virtually guarantees that some “Category 5” detainees who cannot be tried in either federal or military courts will stay at Gitmo through the end of 2010.
On the flip side of the island that houses the U.S. military complex, Fidel and Raul Castro are entering their 50th year of joint rule. Cracks have appeared in the absurd, if untouchable American trade and travel embargo on Cuba—in place since 1960. Though Obama renewed the embargo in September, 2010 should be the year when pressure from American businesses seeking a new market forces a change in policy, the Castros throw in the towel—and the wall finally tumbles down.
8. The CBC Consolidates Its Power
The 111th U.S. Congress has the largest number of black representatives in history—and despite the black president down on Pennsylvania Avenue, the Congressional Black Caucus has started to flex its muscle. After months of ineffective statements and condemnations of House action on health care, military spending and the economy, the CBC notched a major victory during debate over the December financial regulatory reform bill, playing hardball for an additional $4 billion targeted at black America. This victory should give the 42-member caucus—rather like the “Blue Dog” Democrats that have been so influential in the major debates since 2006—added clout and confidence. What’s more, many CBC members come from relatively safe districts, meaning they will be more likely than the average House Democrat to gain seniority in the 112th Congress. This doesn’t mean that they’ll succeed in lobbying the White House out of Afghanistan, but, if all goes according to plan for retiring CBC member Artur Davis, a black man will be running the state of Alabama.