As Sen. John McCain and the GOP leadership nationalize the drill, drill, drill message, the Republican party might conceivably be riding a summer political rally. The question of offshore drilling, along with expanded domestic energy production, has suddenly become the biggest political and economic wedge issue of this election. Is there a Republican tsunami in the making?
According to the major polls, Sen. McCain has overcome a big deficit to pull even with Obama. Meanwhile, according to a Rasmussen survey, Democratic party identification has slumped.
While Republicans on the House floor shouted “vote, vote, vote” and “lower gas prices,” the Democratic majority turned off the lights, cameras, and microphones. Determined Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell offered unanimous-consent requests to vote on lifting the ban on deep-water exploration, and the Democrats objected. When McConnell asked Democrats if they’d overturn the ban at $4.50 a gallon, they replied “no.” When he raised the price to $5, $7, and $10, they cried “no,” “no,” and “no.”
On the Stephanopoulos Sunday news show, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi underscored her refusal to allow a drilling vote. Asked about the Republican rebellion in the House, she said, “What you saw in the Congress this week was the war dance of the handmaidens of the oil companies.” She went on to say, “We are spending all of this time on a parliamentary tactic, when nothing less is at stake than the planet, the air we breathe, our children breathe.”
Oh really? Voters have a much different view. Polls suggest that two-thirds to three-quarters of the nation wants to drill. To wit, while a just-released Obama campaign ad attacks McCain as a tool of big oil, McCain has taken his first-ever lead in a Rasmussen tracking poll.
There is a voter revolt going on, and it reminds me of the anti-tax rebellion that lifted Ronald Reagan into office twenty-eight years ago. Is the conventional wisdom about to be swept away? As Republicans press home the drill, drill, drill message, might they pick up seats in Congress this year? And might the national clamor for a more realistic and balanced energy policy -- one that includes more oil, natural gas, clean coal, nuclear, and the alternatives of wind, solar, and cellulosic -- carry John McCain to a convincing victory over Obama?