One went to Congress, served on the House Rules and the Ways and Means Committees—and now toils as a county commissioner. Another was a scion of a powerful business and political family, became lieutenant governor, narrowly missed being elected to Congress—and now gives speeches about depression and is working on a novel. A third hoped to be on the Federal Reserve board—and is now pursuing Japanese flower arranging. Two went to jail, one of them twice. One has been chair of the Democratic National Committee twice.
These are some of the political stars of the future I profiled in the pages of The Wall Street Journal 31 years ago—a long-ago time when Michael Douglas declared greed to be good, when Ronald Reagan urged Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall, when Jim Bakker resigned from his PTL Club pulpit, and when I was a young political writer given a prized assignment: Look across the country—dig into state legislatures, examine grassroots political organizations, roam the halls of Congress—and identify the 10 people who would dominate American politics in the 21st century.
Sadly, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump did not make the Journal Ten. No one on Earth envisioned any of them living in the White House. Nor did Paul Ryan, Elizabeth Warren, or Kamala Harris make the cut. They were living in true obscurity. Mike Pence was about to lose a House race. Hardly anyone even in his Indiana district paid him any mind. Sonia Sotomayor was on the State of New York Mortgage Agency board. No one thought that was a launching pad to the Supreme Court.