If I were a gambling man – and believe me when I tell you that I would place a bet on the outcome of a tiddlywinks match – I would put McCain’s odds of winning the presidency at 5-1. My good friend Rich Baehr at American Thinker gives McCain a one in three chance of pulling it out but that may be a tad optimistic.
The London line has it Obama a prohibitive 2-7 favorite with McCain’s odds at 5-2. Clearly, the pros are skeptical about McCain’s chances given all the factors at work today.
But oddsmakers only deal with the here and now and with probabilities for the future. McCain could have a true senior moment (moreso than he has already demonstrated) and disappear from contention. Meanwhile, Obama might commit a faux pas so serious that even his slavering devotees in the press would have to report it. Granted, the incident would have to be monumental – like some enterprising reporter discovering Obama begging the Maoist New Party for their endorsement in his 1996 state senate race while accepting volunteers from the radical communist group – but it could happen nonetheless.
The odds of McCain self destructing are probably greater than Obama’s which is another reason he is such a strong favorite.
The only other chance I believe McCain has is to change the dynamics of the race at a fundamental level. Right now, Obama has all the advantages. The issues that matter most to the American people – the economy, health care, Iraq – are either playing into his hands or, as with the war in Iraq, he has been able to manipulate his position to appear out in front of the situation. Bush, McCain, and Petreaus may all disagree with the idea of a 16 month timeline for withdrawal but enough dust has been kicked up by Maliki and Obama himself so as to obscure the candidate’s flips and flops on the war. That’s just the way it is and bitching about it won’t change the fundamental fact that Obama is going to get a pass on Iraq and perhaps even receive a boost if his slaves in the media get their way.
McCain will do no better with the economy (a general issue that speaks more to the voter’s comfort level with their personal financial situation) and health insurance where people appear to favor more government intervention.
But McCain has a couple of ace issues that are in play and that the American people are much closer to his ideas than Obama. I’m talking about gas prices and anti-preference referendums that are on a couple of ballots this fall but something McCain could turn into a national issue.
McCain’s embrace of his home state’s anti-discrimination referendum is being called a flip flop and rightly so. In the past, McCain has opposed these ballot measures, calling them “divisive.” But with voters all over the country overwhelmingly in favor of repealing these preferences in hiring, academics, and the letting of contracts, McCain would do well to embrace these referendums where ever they are on the ballot.
In addition to Arizona, Colorado and Nebraska will also have the civil rights measures on the ballot. There is also a chance that a couple of other states might have referendum to vote on if organizers can gather enough signatures and work their way through the gauntlet of challenges being made by liberals. If McCain were to fully support these measures, it could be as important to his chances in some states as the anti-gay marriage referendums were to Bush’s victory in 2004. The important thing is that these civil rights measures have won and won big everywhere the voters have been given an opportunity ot vote on them.
It would make for a nice little wedge issue for McCain if he could tie his efforts in with some popular ballot initiative like the anti-discrimination laws. Given the majorities they have passed in other states, identifying his campaign with scrapping quotas and other preferential criteria might tip the balance in his favor on election day.
The other issue that is in play in which McCain has a huge advantage is the oil drilling issue which translates directly into voter anger over gas prices. My personal belief is that the blame for our current situation has many fathers on the Hill and in the White House from both parties. We were given the gift of 35 years to solve our energy dependence problem and fumbled the ball miserably. Both parties muffed the chance and here we are, 35 years after the Arab oil embargo exposed our vulnerability to foreigners with regards to our energy supply still promising to do something about it.
In the intervening years, our foreign policy has been held hostage by these desert potentates . And we’ve accepted it because it meant that gas would stay cheap. Well, now we have our foreign policy still being held hostage and gas is $4 a gallon, nearly doubling in the last year. Democracies may not do well at long term planning but we’re geniuses when the wolf is at the door howling to get in. Now that we have no choice, I am supremely confident we are going to lick our energy problem – and a helluva lot faster than Obama and the left can possibly imagine.
There are many things we have to do in order to get our energy house in order; build nuclear power plants, increase our use of “alternative” energy sources like solar and wind (no, alternative energy will not come anywhere close to ever – ever solving our energy needs but increasing their use is still a good idea), self-imposed fuel savings such as we’ve already seen with the huge drop off in driving compared to last year, and manufacturing energy efficient cars and appliances.
I am unconvinced that government mandating such efficiencies is any better than letting the market do so. If auto makers want to go bust, let them keep building SUV’s and if people want to go broke filling the tanks of those behemoths, let them. However, I give a little more credit to the intelligence of the American auto maker and consumer. The price of gas and other fuels will be the primary determinant of how great the impetus toward energy efficiency will eventually be realized.
But we can also drill. And drill. And then drill some more. And when we’re done with that, just for good measure we can drill there too. No one is saying we can become totally independent of foreign fuel sources by drilling offshore, in North Dakota, or in the west where we have tens of billions of barrels of oil locked up in shale. But reducing our dependence would be a nice goal and if in the near future we could import 25% less than we are now because we are tapping our own sources of oil, it would go a long way toward reducing the price of gas at the pump. It would dampen speculation by stabilizing the supply while bulking up our inventories which would also have a calming effect on the market.
Here is where McCain can hit a home run. And Obama would be left out on the mound watching as McCain ran rings around him. By large majorities the American people want us to start drilling and start drilling now. Politicians who get in the way of that sentiment do so at their own risk.
Obama is trapped by his environmental left into basically saying “Prices are high. Shut up and learn to live with it.” He may make a few tentative steps toward nuclear power generation but here again, McCain can run him ragged by boldly embracing a program to build as many nuke plants as can safely be built in the shortest amount of time.
At almost every turn, McCain has the advantage on this issue and he should be constantly pushing for drilling responsibly but on a large scale and as quickly as possible. He should also open government lands to the drill bit.
Now it is true that McCain has been pushing the drilling angle but he has been doing it in a half assed manner, almost as if he is apologetic about it. The problem, of course, is that he has left himself open to charges of hypocrisy because of his global warming position which is decidedly against any additional oil coming to market. The two issues are not incompatible. There are still ways to reduce carbon emissions while drilling for all the oil we can handle.
But the entire drilling issue is symptomatic of what is wrong with McCain’s campaign. Listless, directionless, and only recently has any semblance of organization begun to be seen. He isn’t going to win by playing it safe. He has got to take chances, be bolder in his policy proposals. And standing up for drilling offshore and anywhere else that a realistic field can be tapped would be a good first step.
These two issues can redefne the race if McCain has it in him to embrace what they represent; the core concerns and values of his natural constituency. If elections are about getting more of your people to the polls than the other guy can get his people to the polls, McCain better start thinking about what will motivate his voters to get out of their easy chairs on election day and cast their ballot for him. Otherwise, he is going to get slaughtered.