From a political point of view, the Iraq war is over.
Americans will continue to die in George W. Bush’s failed war and U.S. taxpayers will continue to pay $12 billion a month to fund his folly but, politically, the war is no longer the issue that drives voters to the polls or determines their vote.
Exit polls in the Ohio and Texas primaries last week show the issue that determined how primary voters cast their ballots was — survey says — the economy.
Americans are now more concerned about paying $4 a gallon for gas at the pump and the prospect of losing their home. As a campaign issue, Iraq is dropping faster in the polls than Bush’s approval ratings.
Of course, the Iraq war is a direct cause of the economic problems that now top voter concerns. You can’t spend $12 billion a month in a far away war without it dragging down the economy back home. The old conventional wisdom that war is good for the economy doesn’t play out this time.
But cause means a lot less than effect in politics. Voters are, by nature, a selfish lot. They care a hell of a lot more about their own self-interests than they do about more global issues that affect this nation.
Voters need to understand that their empty pockets are directly related to that far-away war that is now Page 2 news and a back-burner issue.
Local governments are going broke because they can’t afford to buy gas for school buses or collect taxes from foreclosed homes. State governments that depend so much on federal funds find those funds shrinking or gone because the fed is diverting all its resources to pay the $12 billion a month bill in Iraq.
So when voters say the number one issue is the economy they are really saying the number one issue is an economy devastated by the high cost of an illegal and immoral war.
Too bad they don’t realize that simple fact.