Fred Barnes argues that
Republicans finally have a winning argument on a big issue, and they’d better make the most of it. It starts with high gasoline prices–the single most infuriating issue to voters these days–but doesn’t end there.
Democrats are not being blamed for causing the price of gasoline to reach $4 a gallon, at least by the public and at least for now. Where Democrats have stumbled embarrassingly is in their campaign to persuade the public that the American oil industry is the chief culprit. A Gallup national poll in May found only 20 percent blame the oil companies for gouging, down from 34 percent a year ago.
Where Republicans have succeeded is in selling their solution to soaring gas prices: drilling for oil offshore and on federal lands, areas now off limits. In the Gallup survey, support for drilling in precisely these areas jumped from 41 percent in 2007 to 57 percent in May.
So Republicans have an issue to exploit. And it’s one on which Democrats are especially vulnerable because they promised in the 2006 campaign to offer a “common sense” plan to curb gas prices. They have yet to produce one, and the price per gallon of gas has risen by more than $1.60 since Democrats took control of Congress in January 2007.
Democrats have also insisted–unwisely, it turns out–on pushing to enact a global warming bill that would further boost the price of gas and rake in trillions of dollars in new revenue. This might have made sense a few years ago,
but not in the days of public anger over $4 a gallon gasoline.
As a result, an amazing role reversal occurred on Capitol Hill last week. Republicans, once fearful of the climate change issue, suddenly demanded more debate in Congress on global warming legislation. Democrats, who had earlier promoted the legislation as a top priority, turned squeamish and quickly dropped the issue before it could do serious political harm.
Both House speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate majority leader Harry Reid have cast global warming as the greatest threat facing America today. In fact, Pelosi was so concerned about this grave threat that, shortly after taking charge of the House, she vowed to bring a global warming bill to the floor by July 4, 2007. Now, though a bill is ready, she’s unlikely to schedule it for debate and a vote in 2008.
Let’s hope Barnes is right. The moment the US Congress authorizes drilling for oil offshore and on federal lands, in addition to new nuclear plants and refineries, three things will happen:
1. the price of gas will decrease
2. the value of the dollar will go up
3. oil revenue-dependent tyrannies across the world will take notice.
Let’s hope it happens sooner rather than later.
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