Which means that Congressional leadership has to work to define the parties’ differences, beginning with support for the war, a push for opening ANWR and tax relief. Barnes correctly notes that the two biggest issues depressing GOP enthusiasm are Iraq and gas prices. The new government’s arrival coupled with the growing menace in Iran will be the anchors for GOP candidates, but gas prices could undermine even a strong national security distinction between the parties.
Which is why the House and Senate leadership have got to push ANWR to the center of the debate over gas prices. Juan Williams demonstrated on Fox News Sunday why the left cannot be taken seriously on energy. (His meltdown on Mary McCarthy’s firing was also memorable.) Brit Hume and Bill Kristol could not conceal their astonishment at Williams’ inability to grasp the connection between prices and supply.
The good news is that voters are not going to be fooled by the arguments that untapped oil supplies don’t matter to gas prices –if the debate actually occurs. Given the public’s daily collision with the left’s refusal to allow America to use its own oil, it will by legislative and political malpractice if the Republicans do not bring ANWR up for debate least monthly between now and November.
With prices rising, it may even be possible to overcome the Democrats’ inevitable filibuster of exploration in the Senate.
Coupling ANWR exploration with refinary expansion and border fencing into an emergency appropriations and construction authorization bill that includes waivers from the paper-shuffling and law suit phases of major public work projects could be a centerpiece for the summer and fall debates leading to the elections.
But it requires leadership and a willingness to push arguments the MSM hates to credit.