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Friday, June 20, 2008

Has McCain Found His Issue?

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John McCain's task in this election is a daunting one. Some of the impediments he faces are:

  1. The fact his party is in extreme disfavor with the public

  2. He is of the party of an unpopular President finishing his second term leaving a struggling economy

  3. He will be facing an opponent the press loves

  4. He will be facing a much better funded opponent

  5. His base is unenthusiastic about his candidacy

  6. He's old

  7. Etc

But he does have a possible ace up his sleeve if he's willing to use it and there seem to be more signs every day that he just might be. Yesterday came this story announcing that he called for:

...the construction of 45 new nuclear reactors by 2030 and pledged $2 billion a year in federal funds "to make clean coal a reality," measures designed to reduce dependence on foreign oil.

In a third straight day of campaigning devoted to the energy issue, the Republican presidential nominee-in-waiting also said the only time Democratic rival Barack Obama voted for a tax cut was for a "break for the oil companies."

McCain said the 104 nuclear reactors currently operating around the country produce about 20 percent of the nation's annual electricity needs.

"Every year, these reactors alone spare the atmosphere from the equivalent of nearly all auto emissions in America. Yet for all these benefits, we have not broken ground on a single nuclear plant in over thirty years," he said. "And our manufacturing base to even construct these plants is almost gone."

Coupled with his recent announcement of being in favor of additional offshore drilling McCain is starting to look serious about an issue that is top of mind for a large segment of the population. According to a recent CBS poll Gas/Heating oil is second only to Economy/Jobs as the most important problem facing this country today (and an argument can be made that energy and the economy are really part of the same issue).

The advantages of taking this pro-active, pro-American initiative line are numerous.

  1. It isn't pie in the sky. It will work to bring energy prices down. As soon as the market understands that more oil will be coming online even if it will be some years down the road the price of oil will begin to drop. And a belief that more nuclear power will be added to America's energy mix will have the same effect.

2. Barack Obama can't mimic McCain. As this story points out:

A recent report by the Interior Department shows that there are about 139 billion barrels of undiscovered oil on U.S. territory, onshore and offshore combined, much of it restricted from extraction because of environmental regulations. Further, indications are that Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) does not support drilling for that oil and would not take steps to do so if elected president.

On Monday, President Bush called on Congress to allow the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and the Continental Shelf to be opened to domestic oil drilling -- something that would "help us through this difficult period" of $4 per gallon gasoline, he said.

Since entering the Senate, however, Obama has co-sponsored at least 100 pieces of legislation supported by environmentalists, including measures against further domestic oil drilling. He has voted against drilling in ANWR and against an oil leasing program also set for ANWR.

Obama explained why he opposed domestic oil drilling in his bestselling book, "The Audacity of Hope."

"We cannot drill our way out of the problem," Obama wrote, adding, "over the last 30 years, countries like Brazil have used a mix of regulation and direct government investment to develop a bio-fuel industry; 70 percent of its new vehicles run on sugar-based ethanol."

In a Sept. 2005 speech in Indianapolis, Obama further stated his opposition to expanded oil drilling.

"We could open up every square inch of America to drilling and we still wouldn't even make a dent in our oil dependency," he said. "We could open up ANWR today, and at its peak, which would be more than a decade from now, it would give us enough oil to take care of our transportation needs for about a month. Clearly, this is not a solution."

It isn't merely that he's made statements opposing drilling in the past - God knows that violating his word is not a major concern for Obama as his violating his previous policy on public financing of his campaign shows) but he can't afford to alienate the Environmental extremists who have been major supporters. Yesterday the Sierra Club endorsed Obama and most other environmental groups are likely to do the same. He won't risk their ire. So as McCain's position becomes better known and gains him some traction, Obama is stuck making excuses.

Also if McCain would finally reevaluate his position on drilling in ANWR, a place which he still persists in believing is some sort of Grand Canyon-like pristine wonderland (Its not. Swamp in the summer; tundra in the winter. See photo below) he could go a long way in warming up those conservatives who remain hostile to him, a significant portion of whom may choose to "sit this one out" unless McCain does something to make them happy. ANWR may just be that warm bath they're looking for.

John McCain is not going to have an easy time winning this election but a full-bore push to cut energy prices by making the US more independent of Arab oil could go a long way in accomplishing that end.

Blogs For John McCain is encourage as well

Just Average American comments

Ed Morrissey at Hot Air also notes the opportunity for McCain

The Opinion Blog notes Charles Krauthammer's column on this issue


Paul, just this guy, you know? said...

This would be a very good issue for McCain.

Another timely issue, if he would only get in front of it, would be opposition to gay "marriage".

I fear, however, that McCain has no desire to rouse the enthusiasms of his natural base.

Nocomme1 said...

You're very right. McCain's obvious distaste for his own base is a major factor in our distaste for him. I always get the impression that he feels like he's slumming when he's dealing with us and can hardly wait to stab us in the back and regain the NY Times' affection as soon as we put him in office. This is not a great relationship to have with your base if you want them go to the voting booth for you in droves. To put it mildly.