Wednesday, August 13, 2008

McCain Should Link Tsar Putin with Drill, Drill, Drill

Will John McCain turn Tsar Putin’s invasion of Georgia into a drill, drill, drill issue? He should. It will throw Democrats even more on the defensive -- especially Sen. Obama whose weak response to Putin’s neo-Soviet actions have already put him way behind the eight ball on Russia.

McCain’s responses have been superb. And President Bush today adopted many of them -- in particular the warnings on world trade, the G8 (G7?), and a Truman-like airlift of humanitarian assistance relief. Even sending Condi Rice over there and putting SecDef Bob Gates into play.

McCain has been appropriately tough all along. And this Putin ploy will resonate with voters much more than Beltway pundits believe.

But global strategist Thomas Barnett has the energy angle on Russia’s invasion of Georgia exactly right. He says, “Now we all have clarity about the nasty nature of Putin’s Russia,” and this gives us clarity on the need to dramatically reduce our dependence on foreign oil. He asks: Why would the U.S. want to expose the American economy to the potential risk of being held hostage by a couple of oil pipelines that run through the old Soviet empire? He goes on to say, “It’s all-of-the-above time, gang -- domestic drilling, nukes, concentrated solar, deep geothermal, clean coal, and whatever else Silicon Valley and heroic capitalists everywhere can dream up as we conduct a market-driven transition to a post-hydrocarbon economy.” (Hat tip to Jimmy Pethokoukis.)

Barnett is exactly right. I simply call it drill, drill, drill -- total deregulation and decontrol of the great American energy sector. Unleash all manner of energy for an America First energy policy that not only will fuel our economy but will create millions of high-paying jobs in the future.

This is where the Tsar Putin warning should take us this political season. It’s another huge Republican opportunity, led by McCain, to merge Obama’s naïveté and inexperience on national security with his nutty reliance on the enviromaniacs of the left who still control the Democrats.

I notice the Intrade prediction market, which downgraded the end-the-drilling-ban contract to 40 percent yesterday, has popped up the probability of that contract to 50 percent today. I also notice this morning’s Wall Street Journal story that says conservative Republicans in the Senate are not happy with the Gang of 10 drilling compromise. They shouldn’t be happy with it. All that’s necessary is 41 votes to stop a budget spending bill that is likely to contain another one-year extension of the drilling moratorium. That would mean the moratorium is dead on Oct. 1; it expires Sept. 30. This will be the closest thing to an up-or-down vote on drilling.

Do we really want OPEC, Hugo Chavez, and Tsar Putin to control our energy prices? Or will we be brave enough to seize energy independence?

McCain can really lead on this issue.