Thursday, June 19, 2008

McCain Should "Flip-Flop" On ANWR

The term “flip-flop” became part of the American political lexicon, when it was used to define Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry in the 2004 election.

The label was so effective that since then candidates from both parties, showing the lack of creativity that we’ve come to expect from our politicians, have attempted to use the term repeatedly to hammer anyone who has ever changed their stance on an issue.

While this strategy beat John Kerry, it hasn’t stuck to anyone else since then, which leads one to believe that the term has been overused and has lost most of its punch among the American electorate.

Due to recent events and the state of the American economy, John McCain is now faced with a unique opportunity, where a “flip-flop” may very well help him overtake Senator Obama in the polls. This is in regard to the newly resurrected debate over drilling in The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge or ANWR.

Eight years ago John McCain opposed drilling on the airport sized piece of land in Alaska, which sits on top of what some estimate to be enough oil to produce a million barrels a day for 30 years. He reasoned that the land was a pristine, environmental treasure, that shouldn’t be disturbed. Of course this was when gas prices were around $1.70 a gallon.

Excruciating pain at the pump has taken its toll and polls now show that a sizable majority of the American people favor increased energy exploration in the United States. Porcupine Caribou be damned.

Barack Obama and the Democrats oppose any new oil exploration for two reasons. First, Democrats essentially favor high gas prices, seeing them as a way to wean people off of fossil fuels, and to boost the use of public transportation. They also have strong ties to the environmental lobby, and we all know how much trouble hippies can cause at national conventions.

John McCain would be forgiven for changing his mind. All he would have to do when the Democrats inevitably try to label him as a “flip-flopper” is to explain that his opposition to drilling in ANWR came at a time when gas prices were not an issue. We are now faced with a crisis that shows no signs of receding and action needs to be taken.

The American people would understand McCain’s change of heart, especially given their anger over gas prices. He would simply have to tout the benefits of drilling in ANWR to both our economy and our national security, which is an easy case to make. McCain’s switch would also force ANWR to become a prominent issue in the ongoing debate with Senator Obama. He would have to counter McCain on the issue in order to satisfy his liberal base. This gives the GOP a key economic issue on which they poll far better than the Democrats.

If McCain is to take advantage of this however he must do it now. He was presented with a window of opportunity to blunt any “flip-flop’ criticism put forward by Obama and the Democrats on Thursday, when Sen. Obama went back on his promise to run his campaign using public funds. This instance of Obama going back on his word would be a far more egregious example of hypocrisy than that of Senator McCain changing his mind after eight years of rising oil prices. All McCain would have to do is point it out every time Sen. Obama plays the “flip-flop” card on ANWR.

Drilling in ANWR is also an issue that is extremely popular among conservative Republicans, many of whom have not yet warmed up to McCain. Coming over to their side on this issue would solidify the GOP base for the senator more effectively than any other issue currently on the table.

The American people rejected John Kerry’s inability to take a firm position on a foreign policy issue during a time of war. Kerry was unable to balance his political needs with his need to exhibit leadership abilities during dangerous times and it cost him the election. “I voted for the $87 Billion, before I voted against it” became the equivalent of a political blooper reel at a time when people really didn’t know the candidate.

Americans know Senator McCain. He has taken unpopular stances his whole career and has been unapologetic about it. He supported the war in Iraq and fought for the surge strategy despite the fact that it almost cost him his bid for the presidency. Because of his history of independence and his tendency to do what he believes is right rather than what is politically expedient, the American people will most likely give him a pass on ANWR.

- Dan Joseph

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1 comment:

papundits said...

Great post!
It seems everyone but our Leftist Wacko Congress-"peeples" are for drilling everywhere.
Of course if Karl Marx were alive today he'd be either head of the DNC or running for President.
Keep up the good work!