Granted, what is politically effective may be intellectually insulting, as a conservative think tank hand put it to me. But this new ad by conservative advocacy group Freedom's Watch charging that House speaker Nancy Pelosi has done nothing to reduce high gas prices prompted a few blinking beats of cognitive dissonance. (President Bush also blamed Congressional Democrats for high gas prices and the faltering economy at a press conference today).
This is the hawkish group whose associates seek it to serve as the political infrastructure not only for getting Republicans elected, but also to rally public support for the sacrifice required for the "long war" that Republican presidential candidate John McCain and Freedom's Watch's board members advocate? Long war and cheap gas just don't seem to go together. The former says: this is hard but necessary. The latter says: it's easy and don't think too hard about it.
This is politics and one is hardly surprised by disingenuousness from any quarter. But of all the ways disingenuous or sincere Freedom's Watch could try to motivate the conservative base, one is struck that it picked this one. Because presumably, if Freedom's Watch gets its way and McCain is elected, there will be another US president inclined to apply military solutions to the Middle East -- a goal reportedly sought by chief Freedom's Watch backer Sheldon Adelson in the case of Iran. And gas prices are only going to go up.
The ad seems another sign that Freedom's Watch under its new executive vice president Carl Forti, a former top National Republican Congressional Committee operative, is increasingly focusing on the calculus of trying to get GOP candidates elected in local House races - no surprise given his NRCC experience. But it raises the question of whether the group intends to focus less on rallying support for the national security arguments fundamental to the presidential race. Likely only for now, until a single Democratic presidential candidate emerges on whom to focus its future attacks.
Update: Here's one Republican Congressional candidate presumably unlikely to get Freedom's Watch's support.