WASHINGTON -- Let's see: housing meltdown, credit crunch, oil shock not seen since the 1970s. The economy is slowing, unemployment growing and inflation increasing. It's the sixth year of a highly unpopular war and the president's approval rating is at 30 percent.
The Italian Communist Party could win this election. The American Democratic Party is trying its best to lose it.
Democrats have the advantage on just about every domestic issue from health care to education. However, Americans' greatest concern is the economy, and their greatest economic concern is energy (by a significant margin: 37 percent to 21 percent for inflation). Yet Democrats have gratuitously forfeited the issue of increased drilling for domestic oil and gas. By an overwhelming margin of 2-1, Americans want to lift the moratorium preventing drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf, thus unlocking vast energy resources shut down for the last 27 years.
Democrats have been adamantly opposed. They say that we cannot drill our way out of the oil crisis. Of course not. But it is equally obvious that we cannot solar or wind or biomass our way out. Does this mean that because any one measure cannot solve a problem, it needs to be rejected?
Barack Obama remains opposed to new offshore drilling (although he now says he would accept a highly restricted version as part of a comprehensive package). Just last week, he claimed that if only Americans would inflate their tires properly and get regular tune-ups, "we could save all the oil that they're talking about getting off drilling."
This is bizarre. By any reasonable calculation of annual tire-inflation and tune-up savings, the Outer Continental Shelf holds nearly a hundred times as much oil. As for oil shale, also under federal moratorium, after a thousand years of driving with Obama-inflated tires and Obama-tuned engines, we would still have saved only one-fifth the oil shale available in the United States.
But forget the math. Why is this issue either/or? Who's against properly inflated tires? Let's start a national campaign, Cuban-style, with giant venceremos posters lining the highways. ("Inflate your tires. Victory or death!") Why must there be a choice between encouraging conservation and increasing supply? The logical answer is obvious: Do both.
Charles Krauthammer is a 1987 Pulitzer Prize winner, 1984 National Magazine Award winner, and a columnist for The Washington Post since 1985.
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