When your approval rating is only 14 percent, there's nowhere to go but up. Unless
you're the Democrat-led Congress. A Rasmussen poll released Tuesday indicated the
approval rating for Congress has declined by 36 percent from last year's "high."
Just 9 percent of respondents said Congress was doing a "good" or "excellent" job,
while 52 percent of us think it's doing a "poor" one. That's the lowest rating
Much of the dissatisfaction with Congress is due to its unwillingness to do anything
about the soaring price of gasoline. "Right now, our strategy on gas prices is
'Drive small cars and wait for the wind,'" a Democratic congressional aide told the
"So why are the Republicans running scared, and why aren't they going after the 'new
Democratic Congress' hammer and tongs?" wondered Web logger Glenn Reynolds
(Instapundit). "Beats me. Because they're idiots, I guess."
I disagree. Some Republicans in Congress are crooks, and many are cowards. But few
are idiots. For idiocy, you have to look to the campaign of Sen. John McCain.
Aware that something is wrong, Sen. McCain has shaken up his campaign staff.
"He knows that his three month general election head start, was largely frittered
away," wrote New York Times columnist Bill Kristol. "He understands that his
campaign has failed to develop an overarching message. Above all, McCain is
painfully aware that he is being diminished by his own campaign."
If Sen. McCain wants to turn his floundering campaign around, he should heed the
advice offered by St. Paul: "If the trumpet gives an uncertain sound, who shall
prepare himself for battle?" (1Cor 14:8, KJV).
The most important thing to know about politics is that most people don't know much
about politics, and care less. The candidate who can hammer home two or three
themes that resonate with a majority usually wins. But it takes mighty, repeated
blows to knock through the wall of inattention. As Ronald Reagan put it, a
successful candidate must paint "with bold colors, not pale pastels."
The winning theme is obvious. We're paying roughly twice as much for gas as we
should have to pay because the Democrats in Congress won't let us develop our energy
resources. Sen. Obama opposes drilling for oil, mining for coal, building nuclear
power plants. If he's elected president, gas prices will rise to $5 a gallon or
Sen. McCain has said (for him) some remarkably sensible things recently about
energy. He's for drilling off our coasts. He wants to build more nuclear power
plants. He's one of the few members of Congress to have opposed from the get go the
biofuels fraud, which, according to a recent World Bank study, has forced up global
food prices 75 percent while only negligibly reducing demand for oil.
Opinion polls show a large majority of Americans favor drilling off our coasts, and
comfortable majorities favor drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve and
building nuclear plants. A majority (even in Iowa!) now opposes ethanol mandates.
Energy policy could be a game changer, as potent an issue for Republicans in 2008 as
the war in Iraq was for Democrats in 2006.
But Sen. McCain has been Hamlet when he needs to be Henry V. He is discarding a
strong hand through mixed messages and equivocation. He supports drilling on the
outer continental shelf, but opposes it in ANWR. He backs a "cap and trade" program
to reduce carbon dioxide emissions that would devastate our economy. Nuance is
important in policymaking, but can be disastrous in political campaigning. If the
trumpet be uncertain...
Sen. McCain needs to decide, pronto, which is more important to him: Winning the
election, or receiving an occasional kind word from liberal pundits who will vote
If he wants to win, Sen. McCain needs to demonstrate in a dramatic way he'll take
every reasonable step to increase energy supplies -- including drilling in ANWR.
And he needs to do it soon. The number 2 Democrat in the Senate, Dick Durbin, who
is from Barack Obama's home state of Illinois, said Wednesday: "I'm open to drilling
and responsible production." Barack Obama has altered his position on virtually
every issue he campaigned on during the primaries. Could another flip flop be in
"Durbin's comment may be a signal that Obama will pivot soon," said the Wall Street
Journal's Jim Taranto.