Tin foil hat time: It would be considered paranoiac or, at best, extremely cynical, to suggest that people at the top of the Bush-Cheney administration engineered events — or, as Karl Rove once put it, “created a reality” — in which both the deaths of U.S. service members and the price of gasoline dropped precipitously just in time for voting in the 2008 election to begin.
Imagine the political landscape right now, less than 48 hours before voting ends, if the collapse of the financial industry in late September had not upended John McCain’s campaign. With Iraq and gas prices no longer issues driving the campaign, the odds in the presidential race would heavily favor the Republican ticket.
On the other hand, the only other explanation — that it is just a happy coincidence — is even harder to believe. Having studied the tactics of the Bush-Cheney regime for nearly eight years, we know that secretly manipulating events for their own political benefit is the rare thing this crowd does well.
Here are two facts:
U.S. deaths in Iraq fell in October to their lowest monthly level of the war, matching the record low of 13 fatalities suffered in July. Iraqi deaths fell to their lowest monthly levels of the year. Eight of the 13 Americans died in combat, most of them in northern Iraq where al-Qaida and other Sunni insurgent groups remain active. The U.S. military suffered 25 deaths in September and 23 in August.
Some areas are now reporting average gasoline prices below the $3-a-gallon threshold as price continue to fall in the area, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Weekend Gas Watch.
The average price of self-serve regular gasoline in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area is $3.019 per gallon, which is 20.4 cents less than last week, 59 cents lower than last month, and 12 cents under last year…
“For the last two weeks, we’ve seen drops of 3-4 cents per day,” Auto Club spokesperson Jeffrey Spring said in a statement. “The downward pace has certainly accelerated, and it’s difficult to tell when or where it will stop.”
Imagine the political landscape right now, less than 48 hours before voting ends, if the collapse of the financial industry in late September had not upended John McCain’s campaign. In that scenario, with U.S. fatalities at new lows and gas prices no longer a source of worry for voters, the odds in the presidential race would heavily favor the Republican ticket. At worst, even with Sarah Palin weighing McCain down, polls would probably show him winning by a slim majority.
So is this state of affairs a grand conspiracy thwarted by “real” reality — or just a felicitous happenstance that favors the interests of the American people over those of the ruling class? Like so much else that has transpired over the past eight years, we will probably never know.