James Carville, the legendary Clinton campaign adviser who coined the slogan, “It’s the economy, stupid,” knows a gut issue when he sees one. So when Mr. Carville contacted me the other day to tell me about the newest gut issue his polling was turning up for candidates in the 2006 elections, I was all ears.And since GW's declaration that the U.S. should become less dependent on foreign oil, what exactly has Bush/Cheney done to break this addiction? (Also, notice Bush only uttered this statement when gas at the pump went over $3, thus pissing off potential voters.) John Kerry recently said:
“Energy independence,” he said. “It’s now the No. 1 national security issue. ... It’s become kind of a joke with us, because no matter how we ask the question, that’s what comes up.”
So, for instance, the Democracy Corps, a Democratic strategy group spearheaded by Mr. Carville and the former Clinton pollster Stan Greenberg, asked the following question in an Aug. 27 survey of likely voters: “Which of the following would you say should be the two most important national security priorities for the administration and Congress over the next few years?”
Coming in No. 1, with 42 percent, was “reducing dependence on foreign oil.” Coming in a distant second at 26 percent was “combating terrorism.” Coming in third at 25 percent was “the war in Iraq,” and tied at 21 percent were “securing our ports, nuclear plants and chemical factories” and “addressing dangerous countries like Iran and North Korea.” “Strengthening America’s military” drew 12 percent. Mr. Carville also noted that because their polls are of “likely voters,” they have a slight Republican bias — i.e., they aren’t just polling a bunch of liberal greens.
“Today President Bush again talked about our oil addiction. His preferred policy has been to feed the addiction; his attitude on greenhouse gases is to let them increase; his energy alternatives are token; and again and again his approach to crisis is to denigrate the environment. Mr. President, the people know the truth: America is not addicted to oil because it wants to be. Washington is addicted to oil because that’s the way powerful interests want it to be and Republican Washington has helped them every step of the way.”Anything Bush/Cheney has done has been in small, hardly significant amounts. It's all token stuff so that they can claim they're doing something, but make no mistake they're not going to the mat to break this dependence like they went to the mat to secure tax cuts.
As Carville advises, Dems should run hard on this issue. They should show film footage of Bush hugging Saudis and pictures of him holding hands. They should make these images the equivalent of Lieberman's "The Kiss," and they should link it to the environment (alternative, cleaner energy), which always polls very high (70+%) with voters.