“Itâ€™s the state of America now that is the most gripping source of anxiety for Americans, not Al Qaeda or Iraq. Anyone who thinks they are going to win this election playing the Iraq or the terrorism card â€” one way or another â€” is, in my view, seriously deluded. Things have changed.”
– Thomas Friedman, in an op-ed today entitled “Anxiety In America”
As I’ve mentioned recently, Obama is leading McCain by double digits when voters are asked who they trust more on energy policy, the economy and healthcare. And even when it comes to the Iraq war, McCain and Obama are tied.
In fact, McCain only holds a hefty lead on one issue: terrorism.
And to that point…I’ll reprint a question on the economy that was asked by Fortune magazine in recent interview with both candidates…“What do you see as the gravest long-term threat to the U.S. economy?”
Their answers were telling.
Obama thinks it’s energy: “If we don’t get a handle on our energy policy, it is possible that the kinds of trends we’ve seen over the last year will just continue. Demand is clearly outstripping supply. It’s not a problem we can drill our way out of. It can be a drag on our economy for a very long time unless we take steps to innovate and invest in the research and development that’s required to find alternative fuels. I think it’s very important for the federal government to have a role in that process.”
McCain thinks it’s terrorism: “Well, I would think that the absolute gravest threat is the struggle that we’re in against Islamic extremism, which can affect, if they prevail, our very existence. Another successful attack on the United States of America could have devastating consequences.”
So then, is McCain just completely missing the boat? Will his attempts to tie the economy back to terrorism fail? And is this why a growing number of Republicans are publicly expressing their frustration with his lack of a core campaign message?
Friedman gets the last word, “And digging out of this hole is what the next election has to be about and is going to be about â€” even if it is interrupted by a terrorist attack or an outbreak of war or peace in Iraq. We need nation-building at home, and we cannot wait another year to get started. Vote for the candidate who you think will do that best. Nothing else matters.”