by Jeff Siegel
One of the things I love about Republicans is that they have no use for government unless it suits their purpose. Hence Senators John McCain and Hillary Clinton proposing to suspend the federal gas tax.
Damn, I need to stop doing that.
Mrs. Clinton, of course, still pretends to be a Democrat. But as she struggled to find some way to overcome Barack Obama's lead for the party's presidential nomination last week, she took positions that were GOP in all but name, pandering to the Reagan Democrats who sustained her in the Pennsylvania and Ohio primaries. The gas tax holiday, with its inference that high gas prices are the federal government's fault, is classic Bush-Rove politicking.
That Mrs. Clinton bought into it shows how desperate she is. A legitimate Democrat (and even her husband) would have have laughed at Sen. McCain (R-AZ) and found a way to note that gas prices are high because we use too much of it. A real Democratic would have used the word conservation in any gas price discussion.
And, apparently, Democratic primary voters have finally had enough of this foolishness. No one expected Mrs. Clinton to win in North Carolina last night, but did anyone expect the shellacking she got? And her bare bones victory in Indiana, which she won by just 17,000 votes, can't make anyone in Clinton headquarters happy. They wanted Pennsylvania and Ohio margins, where Sen. Clinton (D-NY) won by about 10 points each time.
The pundits, who have written Mrs. Clinton off since Iowa in January, are doing it again. USA Today says Obama is closing in on a "history-making" nomination, while The Washington Post reports Sen. Obama (D-IL) is moving ever closer to the nomination. And this may be true (they have to get it right eventually, don't they, if they keep saying the same thing?).
But, as always, they're missing the point. The Indiana results (and, to a lesser extent, those in North Carolina) point to voters weary of the campaign and tired of Mrs. Clinton and her Republican ways. Obama may not be Gene McCarthy, but he can still sound like a Democrat, as he did on the gas tax: "I understand how badly people are hurting. If we're serious about helping them, let's provide them some relief, but let's not pretend that we're doing something by suggesting a gas tax holiday that will not be paid for...." His behavior in the Wright business, when he threw a man of God under the bus, wasn't very commendable, but he at least seemed uncomfortable doing it. Mrs. Clinton shows no such scruples.
Democratic voters want a Democratic candidate, and in this they may well know something the pundits don't. Why vote for Mrs. Clinton when you can vote for McCain, who also supports the war, the Bush internal security measures, and more tax cuts for the wealthy? Enough, they have said, and good for them.
For more background on the 2008 campaign, please see these archival posts:
- "Barack Obama: Pennsylvania Reveals the Frontrunner's Flaws;"
- "The Hillary Clinton Potomac Primary Climate Check;"
- "Texas Democratic Debate Highlights Plus;"
- "John McCain and the Republican Right;" and
- "Wolf Blitzer: Is Human Rights More Important than American National Security?"
North Carolina primary
gas tax holiday
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