So President Obama's advisers note that $4 gasoline is a problem; on Friday he gives a speech representing a "grab bag of excuses and outright falsehoods" according to Investors Business Daily; and on Saturday Newt Gingrich provides a detailed policy response to a California Republican Convention audience. The Sunday talk shows? - Rick Santorum's views on a college education, Ann Romney's Cadillacs, and the ongoing complaint that the Republicans don't deal with substance. This energy subject is so teed up ... it just needs a simple presentation with a few symbols.
1. Clear policy. Energy Secretary Chu proclaimed in 2009 and reiterated in 2011 and 2012 that "Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe" - now about $10 per gallon - in order to make alternative energy sources competitive and to force people into smaller cars. For those who think that Chu simply misspeaks, Secretary of the Interior Salazar - while testifying that he opposed drilling on federal land even if gas prices reached $10 per gallon - related "it’s time we replace oil altogether as America’s fuel of choice." Try to spin that, Jay Carney.
2. Symbol 1. Solyndra. It is not necessary to get into the weeds, but some $16.4 billion of the $20.5 billion in loans for "alternative energy" under the Stimulus Plan went to companies owned or run by major Obama financial backers in a program driven by a major Obama bundler, Steve Spinner, and called by the Government Accountability Office "arbitrary", "lacking transparency", and "lacking performance measures". People can understand that the $535 million loss on Solyndra is the tip of the corrupt iceberg.
3. Symbol 2. Keystone XL. There is no way to put any lipstick on this pig. Obama's domestic political considerations have cost thousands of jobs and a key element of North American energy independence. The best he can do is note that approval would not affect gasoline prices right away.
As the campaign unfolds, the administration will argue that they cannot affect the a global oil market (true in the short run, although there will probably be a release from the national petroleum reserves in an effort to drive down gas prices before he election), that US oil production is actually up (yes, due to development on private lands in North Dakota approved by the Bush administration), and that they have helped consumers by mandating that fuel efficiency standards be increased to 35 mpg in 2016 and 54 mpg in 2025 (yes, the government can force movement away from the public's preferred larger cars and trucks.)
There is some Republican concern (and Democratic hope) that voters will be pacified by a moderately improving economy and that they don't really care about Obama's huge debt, but gasoline inflation is a raw nerve with many story lines - the effect of Obama's "leading from behind" policies in the Middle East; Harry Reid's stonewalling of nuclear energy development; the administration's continued opposition to offshore drilling; data/data/data. For the masses the clear statements by administration leaders and the symbols of Solyndra and Keystone say more than enough. Lets not try to get too fancy - even the sychophants at MSNBC agree that the messiah's energy policies are a bust.
This week's video is a compelling ad for the new Chevy Volt.
bill bowen - 3/2/12