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The Democrats' Big Problem: The War In Iraq Wasn't About Oil

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

This 2008 presidential election cycle has been jam-packed with irony. John McCain has been forced to rely on the 527 groups he so despises; Barack Obama has been denounced by members of the black community but embraced by upper class whites; the Clintons have been rejected by the very media that put them in power.

But perhaps the most ironic fact of the 2008 election cycle is this: John McCain will win the 2008 election because the war in Iraq was not a war for oil.

Since the liberation of Iraq in March 2003, liberals have been screaming that the war to remove Saddam Hussein and his henchmen was a facade. They have been shouting for years on end that the real reason for U.S. presence in Iraq was to secure resources for the Exxon/Mobils of the world. They have been shrieking that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, oilmen both, hijacked American foreign policy to pad their pocketbooks.

There was only one problem with that logic, of course: The price of oil has been skyrocketing since the invasion of Iraq. As of March 2003, the price of oil was well under $40 per barrel. The price of oil is now nearly $120 per barrel, and within the last few weeks it has been above $140 per barrel. If the war in Iraq was a war to open the resource floodgates for Big Oil, it was a massive failure.

The war in Iraq was never about oil, of course. And that simple fact, ironically enough, spells doom for Democrats. With oil prices ridiculously high, Americans are demanding that Congress open domestic territory to oil exploration -- and Democrats are stonewalling. House Republicans are demanding that Congress allow drilling; Democrats are denying an up-or-down vote. And Americans don't like it at all.

Only 14 percent of Americans now approve of Congress' no-drilling energy policy. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's anti-drilling, "save the world" strategy is making her dramatically unpopular -- so unpopular that she is secretly telling Congressional Democrats to vote for drilling. And Barack Obama -- who just recently suggested that Americans ought to focus on properly inflating their car tires in order to best conserve gasoline -- is now backtracking on his no-offshore-drilling pledge.

If the war in Iraq had been about oil, Democrats would be sitting in the catbird seat right now. The price of gasoline would be less than half its current price; Americans would be willing to countenance the Luddite idiocy of the no-drilling Dems. Instead, Americans are steaming over high gasoline prices, and they are rightfully blaming the left.

All of which makes Barack Obama's candidacy look increasingly tenuous. When Obama was nominated, his two major policy selling points were opposition to the war in Iraq and hard-core environmentalism. At the time, those policies looked like a road to success in the general election.

But times have changed. The war in Iraq is going well, thanks to the surge promoted by McCain. Obama has struggled to deal with this on-the-ground reality, thickly suggesting instead that had his immediate withdrawal strategy been pursued, the situation on the ground would be even better in Iraq. Obama's McGovernite anti-war position and his refusal to acknowledge the great work done by our troops now puts him on the wrong side of history.

The real killer for Obama, however, is his deep green environmentalism. Obama opposes drilling -- or at least he did until this week. And Americans don't trust that Obama has completely overcome his knee-jerk anti-drilling attitudes.

For Obama, his biggest strength -- opposition to the war in Iraq on both security grounds and on grounds that it was a war for oil -- now constitutes his biggest weakness. His biggest problem is that the war in Iraq wasn't about oil. If it had been, perhaps he'd still be leading in the polls.

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