A Peek at November 2006 Issues
Apparently Iraq will not be an issue in this fall’s Congressional elections, and the election will probably turn on two issues: illegal immigration and energy policy. I say Iraq will not be an issue because the lopsided votes in both Houses for ‘staying the course’ would seem to make it impossible for Democrats to gain much traction on Iraq – and the Supreme Court decision on military tribunals should spark a Congressional debate on dealing with terrorists that Republicans can't lose.
I mention illegal immigration and energy policy in the context of continuing the high turnout of conservative voters critical to retaining a Republican majority. If they sit on their hands and pout, as they did with Bush 41, their reward will not be a minority president like Clinton, but a Democratic House majority with nothing on their minds but impeachment, nothing in the offing but even more political incivility (if one can imagine that) and the continued frustration of any progress in getting us out of our foreign oil dependence and high and rising gasoline prices.
A needed and reasonable settlement of the illegal immigration crisis would seem to be in the hands of Republican Senatorial moderates, because the House certainly gets it. Red states are demanding ‘close the borders first, then do guest workers and earned citizenship’.
They WILL sit on their hands if all we get is McCain-Kennedy (can a Republican Senator do more to wreck this country than Senator McCain?), or some half-hearted and last minute attempts by the President to adopt a tougher stance by sending a few Guardsmen to the border. Fortunately, just as this is being written, the President has just signaled Congress that he gets it - 'yes, shut the border down, then apply some thoughtful measures to the illegals already here'.
The stance of Democrats who oppose exploration and drilling for oil and natural gas should be a major campaign issue, as the facts behind high gasoline prices and impending shortages must be pounded into public consciousness. Yes, we need to conserve, and, yes, we need to move more quickly into biofuels, and yes, we need to build lots of nuclear plants – but right now, we need more supplies of domestic oil and gas. Public approval and disapproval of Bush has been closely linked to gasoline prices, even though it is the Democrats with their heads in the sand.
Republican National Committee, take another look at this graphic that shows the relationship of President Bush's popularity to gasoline prices. When gasoline prices go up, Bush's popularity goes down, and vice versa.