Have you noticed how Hillary is looking increasingly exhausted lately? She's no longer even bothering to shape-shift her hair on a regular basis. Not without good reason, mind you: hers has been one busy tenure over there at State. And, meanwhile, isn't it coming on over a year since Chelsea's wedding?
So here's my fantasy.
Chelsea gets pregnant, such that Hillary retires, around the middle of next year, to pursue a fresh, well-earned career as doting grandmother.
Obama has to choose a new secretary of state and appoints Joe Biden (the position the latter always wanted anyway).
By that point the coin has finally dropped and it has suddenly become desperately obvious to the Obama campaign operation that, governing as he has been doing over the last four years as an old style right-of-center Republican (somewhere between Nixon and Reagan), Obama has completely shredded his base, such that they'd better do something pretty radical if they are going to salvage the reelection campaign, especially given the dire state of the economy (not entirely not his fault).
So Obama chooses Elizabeth Warren as his second-term running mate.
And indeed that does the trick, completely revivifying his base. (If nothing else, just imagine the Warren-Bachmann vice-presidential debates!) And thus re-engaged, the Democrats go on to sweep the 2012 election.
Shortly after the new team's inauguration, in 2013, Clarence Thomas, suffering from one internal contradiction too many, finally has the nervous breakdown we've all long been expecting and has to retire from the Supreme Court.
Having to choose some nominee who the Republicans in the Senate won't be able to block, the just re-elected Obama appoints himself to the vacant Supreme Court seat (a position he'd clearly much prefer to that of president, one where he can deliberate to his heart's content, a lifetime position at that, and one in which, for that matter, over time, he might well prove more effective).
And Elizabeth Warren becomes president.
Just in time, alas, for the next crash.
Lawrence Weschler, the author of over fifteen books, including Vermeer in Bosnia, Everything that Rises (winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism), and, just out, Uncanny Valley: Adventures in the Narrative, is the director of the New York Institute for the Humanities at NYU.