My New Year predictions have been almost entirely wrong for as long as I can remember. Two years ago, I suggested on the BBC Correspondents' Lookahead that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the blogger and Iranian leader, would kiss the cheek of George W Bush on the tarmac at Tehran airport; a year ago, I said Dick Cheney would resign and be replaced by John McCain.
But, like a gambler, I feel the need to press on in the hope of hitting the jackpot.
This year in the lookahead programme, I predicted that John McCain would be elected president in 2008 and that the American brand would be back in vogue, or at least would no longer be so widely regarded as poisonous. The first prediction could, of course, be dead by the end of the first month of 2008 - which would be a record even by my dismal standards - but the second will take all year and maybe leach into 2009 as well.
I predict an improvement in America's worldwide reputation with only moderate confidence (to borrow from the argot of the National Intelligence Estimates) but, if it is to happen at all, I believe it should begin in Iowa this week, where groups of essentially decent, mild, kindly people will begin the process of choosing the 2008 winner.
Iowa is flawed, of course. The candidates are a rum bunch on both sides and the voters (too white, too religious, too old, too extreme, you take your pick) are similarly open to attack, but it is nonetheless worth pausing, I reckon, before it all kicks off, to reflect that in a nation of 300 million people, bristling with military power and at war around the world, managing an orderly transition of power is a majestic enterprise, worthy of ongoing wonderment.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, suggested recently that Western society was itself flawed. "There is something about Western modernity which really does eat away at the soul," he said. Those who agree with him will be tut-tutting as the American election process gets going in all its meretricious glory but, along with the self-doubt, a little bit of self-confidence might be no bad thing among Western democrats in 2008.
However much the souls of Iowans are eaten away (according to the archbishop's view), I would prefer to be ruled by them than any other group on earth...