Tuesday, August 05, 2008


(Relative) Peace & Prosperity?

Andrew Sullivan asks why the race remains close and zeroes in on both changes on the ground in Iraq -- and the likely increased Democrat numbers in Congress that might argue for divided government:

The second factor, I'd argue, is, paradoxically, Democratic strength. The shift away from the GOP is pronounced everywhere (democracy hasn't failed completely) and few doubt that the Dems could make big gains in both House and Senate this fall. So the threat of the kind of Republican agenda that propelled Bush from 2002 to 2006 is much diminished. McCain, moreover, is not so bad a figure to deal with a Democratic Congress from the perspective of many independent voters, especially since the Congress is pretty much reviled as well. So the choice becomes an all-Democratic government, headed by a senator whose newness is still one of the most striking things about him - or an old war horse who ticked off all the right Republicans at one point or other and who was more right about the sruge than Obama. Obama's hopes for a landslide therefore rest on the chance that economic distress will now do to the public mood what Iraq once did - and make bold change seem necessary. [Emphasis added]
The last line, however, is rather significant.

John McCain and the
Republicans members of the House have managed to play the oil drilling issue perfectly. Barack Obama has publicly backtracked on it. Nancy Pelosi is now talking about holding a House vote -- and letting many Democrats vote their conscience. But, here's the really significant part. Oil prices are falling significantly. What was $147 a barrell a three weeks ago -- when the GOP started pushing the drilling theme strongly -- is now $118. It doesn't seem to be stopping at this point.

Now, the drop in barrell price is not yet necessarily seen at the gasoline pump. However, if that occurs by the fall -- and home-heating prices are not necessarily as expensive as people expect (which, even if they are, won't really be felt until late November, December, January) -- the most telling personal aspect of a precarious economy might not be felt nationwide.

In short, John McCain (though not necessarily the GOP) might not be in such a bind: Iraq will be stable ahd he won't have to be seen defending a "calamitous" economy steered by an unpopular incumbent president. Running against a young Democratic hopeful that voters may still have doubts about suddenly doesn't seem such a tough row to hoe.

It's not exactly running on a record of "peace and prosperity," but the political landscape for McCain is not necessarily as disastrous as it appeared at the beginning of the year.

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