With the polls in many key midterm races agonizingly close, victory or defeat in November will hinge largely on a single question: Are Americans merely anxious about our faltering economy, or have they definitively hit the panic button?
As inflation escalates, the housing market stalls, stock portfolios wither and even the job market grows more adverse, Americans are rightly expressing concern, but almost every economist agrees that the worst is yet to come. In 2023, we are told, soaring interest rates will choke off economic growth (if there was any to speak of, that is), producing intense economic misery. The Democrats' only hope is that the severity of the situation hasn't yet dawned on most swing voters. And that hope is not entirely in vain. The media aren't harping on economic weakness nearly as obsessively as it would be if, say, Republicans were in power in Washington, D.C., and that gives the left reason to be cautiously optimistic.
This electoral calculus is precisely the reason why Americans should be appalled at recent reports that the Biden administration pressured the Saudis and OPEC to delay their announcement of oil production cuts from early October until November or December. No doubt Biden and his cronies would claim that there was a sound policy rationale for such a request, based on the national interest, but the obvious effect of such a postponement would be to prevent gas prices from rising in the short term, and thus to save the Democrats' bacon as they face electoral "armageddon" (to borrow a phrase from Sleepy Joe himself) in November. Democrats realize that falling gas prices in the last few months are one of the only pieces of good economic news on hand, and that propitious development has undergirded a recovery for Team Blue in the polls. This also explains why Biden is draining the strategic petroleum reserve at historically high rates: Politically, the Democrats need cover from the charge that their economic stewardship is leading Americans to inflationary perdition. Without that cover, provided by falling gas prices, their goose is cooked.
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Now that Biden's attempts to get the Saudis to change course have failed, though, and the OPEC decision to cut production has been confirmed, Biden is promising unspecified "consequences" for the oil-rich kingdom, and his press secretary is claiming that the Saudis have "align[ed] their energy policy with Russia's war aims and against the American people." (By this logic, if the Saudis really opposed Russian aggression, they'd just give away their oil for free – that would show Putin!)
Arguably, these statements from Biden and his minions are threats designed to force Saudi Arabia to adjust its energy policies to suit the short-term political interests of Democrats. President Trump was impeached, lest we forget, in 2019 for making requests of Ukraine that were seen as helpful to his campaign and prejudicial to the political interests of Joe Biden. Presumably, though, given the massively altered political realities in October 2022, the Democratic Congress will see this particular episode of "election interference" in an entirely different light. What was impeachable and an "abuse of power" then will be excused and even applauded now. As the French might put it, "C'est la guerre."
If there's a lesson to be learned here, it's that, for Democrats, the moral and intellectual distinctions that exist between their interests and those of the nation as a whole are absolutely inconsequential and possibly even inconceivable. That should make everyone who isn't a Democrat very worried.
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