Posted 08/25/2008 ET
Updated 08/25/2008 ET
The choice of Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE) for his vice presidential running mate is one more step in the decline of Barack Obama.
Obama's decline has taken him from an Oprah Winfrey-endorsed, "change we can count on" trendy leader to a normal politician.
From Waffling on Drilling to Carter-esque Uncertainty in the Russia Crisis
Senator Obama's first step on his long, downward slide may have been repudiating Reverend Jeremiah Wright, his pastor of twenty years.
Then, Senator Obama waffled on drilling offshore to ease the energy crisis, first supporting a blanket prohibition even to the extent of actively seeking to withhold from the public the results of government surveys of America's offshore oil and gas reserves. This was followed by his expression of "openness" to some undefined "limited" drilling. Why? Because the voters were increasingly unhappy with Obama's leadership on anti-energy extremism. His lead had collapsed.
Next, Senator Obama handled the Russian assault on Georgia with an uncertainty eerily reminiscent of President Carter. He sent three different messages to the American people (and the world) in the same number of days (while getting tougher and clearer as he went along, he reminded everyone that while he was the campaigner in chief, he was not really ready to be commander in chief, and the damage was done).
Picking the Candidate Who Got Nine Thousand votes Instead of the Candidate Who Got 18 Million
Last week former federal prosecutor and National Review Online Contributing Editor Andy McCarthy documented the degree to which Senator Obama has been dishonest about his record of opposing legislation in the Illinois State Senate that would have protected babies who survived a failed abortion. This is a position, by the way, which puts him in opposition to over 90 per cent of all Americans, including liberal Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) as well as 99 other members of the U.S. Senate, who voted in favor of the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act in 2002. Americans almost universally believe that live-born infants must be afforded full legal rights under law, regardless of their stage of development or whether their live births occurred during a failed abortion.
Now Senator Obama has nominated as his running mate a man who received 9,000 votes for president and withdrew.
Obama could have picked Hillary Clinton, who received 18,000,000 votes. (He would have done so, by the way, without sacrificing his desire to have a Vice President with strong national security and foreign policy credentials on the ticket.)
That works out to 2,000 votes for Clinton for every one vote Senator Biden got.
On Foreign Policy, Biden is Closer to McCain Than Obama
Obama could have picked a moderate who would have tempered his big tax increase, big bureaucracy policy positions - someone like Governor Tim Kaine or former Governor Mark Warner of Virginia, Governor Kathleen Sibelius of Kansas or Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana.
Senator Biden brings some foreign policy knowledge to the Democratic ticket, although on that front, he has often been closer to Senator John McCain than to Senator Barack Obama.
On domestic policy, Biden is a reliable liberal whose big tax, big spending positions will be totally comfortable for Obama.
Biden - Not the Change Voters had in Mind
But, Biden is not a figure of change. If anything, he is a lifetime member of the Washington establishment. He is the reassurance for the establishment that whatever changes Senator Obama might bring will not threaten Washington's entrenched interests -- the very thing the voters want changed.
This was a choice to try to compensate for weakness (on foreign and national security policy) and to reassure voters, who were unnerved by Senator Obama's confused reaction to events in Georgia.
A Choice That Will Remind Voters of the Sad Decline of the Once Self-Confident Candidate
The selection of Senator Biden actually reinforces the notion that the change Senator Obama talked about in general terms was not the change voters had in mind. Senator Obama's choice for Vice President reminds people of the sad decline of a charismatic, self-confident, almost hubristic performer (remember that Obama confidently told 200,000 Germans that he was a fellow "citizen of the world" just before his lead and his self-confidence began to collapse).
The Biden choice was the choice of a different Barack Obama, one who is more cautious and less self-confident than the Barack Obama who won the Democratic nomination.
It will be interesting to see which Obama shows up for the acceptance speech Thursday night in Denver-the agent of change or the hesitant politician-and whether he can regain the jaunty self-confidence which enabled him to beat Hillary Clinton for the nomination.
The Democrat's Party Platform: Where's the Drilling?
The party platform that the delegates to the Democratic National Convention will vote on this week has planks entitled "New American Energy" and "Establish Energy Security," but nowhere-not once in the 94-page, 45 thousand word document-do the Democrats mention drilling for more American oil and natural gas in order to lower prices. It's just not there.
If Democrats had taken the time to consult another platform - the Platform of the American People - they would know that their platform does NOT reflect the opinion of their rank and file. Overwhelming majorities of Americans-including majorities of Democrats-favor using more of America's energy resources, including oil and coal.
From the Platform of the American People:
We want our elected leaders in Washington to focus on increasing the energy supplies of the United States and lowering the costs of gasoline and electricity. (71 to 18)
With appropriate safeguards to protect the environment, we should drill for oil off America's coasts to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. (73 to 23)
Delegates to the Democratic convention, as well as any other American who is interested, can read the entire Platform of the American People here.
Report: Increase in U.S. Natural Gas Production Upends Anti-Energy Left's Conventional Wisdom
Democratic delegates who are still convinced that the notion that increased American oil and gas production will push down energy prices is a "hoax" (to quote House Speaker Nancy Pelosi) should read a new report in the International Herald Tribune.
This is the headline: "A U.S. drilling boom revives hopes for natural gas."
And here's the lead:
American natural gas production is rising at a clip not seen in half a century, pushing down prices of the fuel and reversing conventional wisdom that domestic gas fields were in irreversible decline.
The new drilling boom uses advanced technology to release gas trapped in huge shale beds found throughout North America-gas long believed to be out of reach.
Increased supply utilizing new technology is pushing down prices? Now, where have we heard that before?
And if it works for natural gas, increased supply will work for oil, coal and nuclear.
Is it a Hoax to Believe in the Laws of Supply and Demand? This is the Question that the Democrats will have to Answer in Denver
A reporter recently asked Speaker Pelosi if she supported offshore drilling. She responded: "I will not allow Republicans to have a hoax on the American people that if you drill offshore the price at the pump will come down."
Pelosi's comment represents the strange predicament that many anti-energy Democrats have gotten themselves into; they have boxed themselves into denying some very basic economic laws of supply and demand. Led by Pelosi, anti-energy Democrats are saying that increases in supply afforded by opening up new areas to drilling won't affect the price of energy, even as gas prices are dropping in response to very clear indications that the American people are increasingly determined to support more drilling offshore.
It is well established in economics that long-term increases in supply of a commodity will affect current prices of the commodity. Changing U.S. law to permit expanded drilling offshore and in Alaska would immediately increase long-term oil supplies that the market would have to take into account in its pricing and thus have an impact in lowering oil prices today.
One of the great open questions for the Democratic Party in Denver this week is whether it will follow Speaker Pelosi's lead in ignoring the economic laws of supply and demand to suit the political agenda of an anti-energy elite.
Oprah's Favorite Doc Talks about Center's Healthcare Success
Speaking of Oprah, "America's Doctor" Mehmet Oz, renown for his appearances on Oprah, conducted an interview with me about the success of the Center for Health Transformation.
During the interview, I outline the four strategic questions CHT is working to answer in our effort to create a 21st Century Healthcare System that will save lives and save money for future generations: 1) How do we empower individuals to take personal responsibility for their health? 2) How do we change the society and culture? 3) How do we make hospitals and doctors more efficient? 4) How do we pay for it? Click here to listen to the interview or visit HealthTransformation.net to review our 4-box model.
Your friend,Newt Gingrich
P.S. -- You can learn more about reducing energy prices by pre-ordering my new book due out in September. "Drill Here Drill Now Pay Less: A Handbook for Slashing Gas Prices and Solving our Energy Needs"
P.P.S. -- A Word of Thanks: A long-time friend and colleague Matt Towery has some very gratifying things to say about how we've been able to influence the debate over the years, from welfare reform to the "Drill Here, Drill Now" campaign. You can read his column here.
Mr. Gingrich is the former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and author of "Winning the Future" (published by Regnery, a HUMAN EVENTS sister company). Click here to get his free Winning the Future e-mail newsletter.