Holy Kapowski, Batman! Who would have thought that the Prez election of 2004 would come down to a question of who could pander more to the citizens of Nevada over a policy that should have been settled years ago?
But, that is what is happening. The current situation (interactive map, with polls, just click on states) shows Kerry with a 270 - 259 lead over Bush in the Electoral College. Ohio has swerved toward the Bush column, though of course that race is hardly over. And Florida looks as if it could easily be Bush country again.
Nevada, however, is listed in the Kerry column. How come? Easy: Yucca Mountain. I wrote before about Kerry's grotesque pander on the high-level radioactive waste site, but I didn't expect the state to be so central to the outcome.
Here's the deal: Right now, Colorado is too close to call, and that is 9 Electoral College votes. Nevada is another 5. If Bush takes Colorado, and steals Nevada from Kerry's column, where it is now, that would change the standings to Bush 273, Kerry 265.
So, a prediction (dangerous; political scientists are better at predicting the past): during the Republican Convention next week, in New York, the Bushies will make some very specifically unspecific promises about Yucca Mountain. When it comes down to a simple policy shift that would endanger the saftety of tens of thousands of Americans, but will win the election, I expect Bush to pander, too.
What does that mean? Instead of a safe, centralized storage facility, we will have hundreds of separate "disposal sites," all with highly dangerous material stored at or near the surface, with little or no protection from terrorist attack. All this because seven people and a cow in Nevada want to keep their state clean for gambling, prostitution, and Sans-a-Belt stretch pants.