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Thursday, May 04, 2006

High Prices Caused by Iraq War

When Americans went to the polls on Election Day 2004, nearly 51 percent pulled the lever, punched a chad or touched a screen for George W. Bush. Only 32 percent of the electorate would do the same today. What changed the minds of 23 million people?
 
It can't be Iraq. Nothing, after all, has changed. At the beginning of November 2004, we had been there for nearly two years. The Administration, having scoured the country for weapons of mass destruction, came up empty-handed and called off the search. It isn't as if the tide of battle shifted between 2004 and today. We were losing, and had been losing, since the beginning. Iraqi resistance fighters had already slaughtered more than 1200 American soldiers. The carnage has claimed another 1200 since then; it's a grim but steady rate.
 
It can't be the economy. True, it sucks, but it's no suckier than it was on Election Day 2004. Bush had already added a staggering $2.5 trillion to the national debt. As is the case for Iraq war casualties, he has continued to dig us deeper ever since--but at no faster a rate.
 
Bush's aborted plan to privatize/eliminate Social Security attempted to trade on the support he'd acquired from terrorized Americans after 9/11. His Gallup poll approval rating dropped from 57 percent after his 2005 State of the Union Address, where he announced his scheme, to 48 percent in April, three months later. By then, however, the market of public opinion had factored in the effect of the Social Security debacle, which was resolved when Congress refused to go along. Something else has to explain the continuing plunge toward Watergate-era Nixondom.
 
It isn't the torture at Guant´┐Żnamo and Abu Ghraib, the torture flights of people they kidnapped so they could be tortured in Syria and Uzbekistan, or the Valerie Plame CIA leak investigation. Americans who care about those things didn't vote for Bush in the first place. There can only be one explanation, one that has bedeviled countless politicians before Bush:
 
Gas prices.
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