President Obama knows that every public statement he makes is recorded and lives forever on the internet. That is cause for serious worry. The best campaign ad to run against Obama is one that uses his own words — and those of the officials he has empowered — against him. When it comes to high gasoline prices, this is a target-rich environment.
Two new polls show that Americans’ opinion of Barack Obama has taken a dive. The Washington Post headline “Gas Prices sink Obama’s ratings on economy” zeroes in on the impact of high gas prices on his political prospects. A New York Times/CBS poll released the same day shows a similar dramatic decline and states that Obama is heading into the general election on “treacherous political ground” and also chalks up at least part of the decline to much higher prices at the pump over the last few months. High gas prices are a particular vulnerability of Obama’s since they affect so many people so many times a week — especially in those battleground states where people are forced to drive long distances. Each of those signs is free advertising for the Republicans. They can’t be explained away by Barack Obama’s friends in the media.
The fact is that Americans believe that the president can do a lot about oil prices. And that is an invitation that the Republicans can ride to victory parties in November.
There is no need to rehash all the steps that the Obama administration has taken over the last three years that have helped supercharge the price it takes to fill our cars. These would include slow-walking drilling permits, shutting down much offshore development, closing off federal lands, and killing Keystone XL. There are many more that could be listed and have been by others. The Republicans should also point out that Obama has wasted three-plus years on passing two very unpopular pieces of legislation (ObamaCare and the Stimulus) rather than taking the steps needed to bring us affordable gasoline.
But there is a delicious irony in taking advantage of Obama’s Obama Obsession. He has been so busy bloviating over the last few years, so eager to display his omniscience when it comes to energy, that there is plenty of visual material to cull from the public domain that can and will be used against him as the campaign season rolls on, if the GOP has any brains. Call it divine justice that the man who seemingly can never stop talking can be hoisted on his own petard.
One can start with a graph of how gas prices have gone from $1.84 when Obama took office to $3.79 and climbing during March (and this is before the summer driving season spikes them upward). Then there’s the voice we have heard so many times over the years that it seems to come straight from George Orwell’s 1984: Barack Obama talking during the campaign about his wish to see higher gas prices. Fade to Ken Salazar, Obama’s choice to head the Department of Interior — the department that has done so much to stop oil exploration and development on federal land. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell proposed a bill to encourage offshore oil drilling. Ken Salazar kept objecting to the bill even when McConnell suggested that the amendment be triggered when gas prices hit $10 a gallon at the pump. Even when gas prices hit $10 a gallon, Salazar was opposed to allowing more offshore drilling. The YouTube clip can be found here.
Then pair it up with Energy Secretary Chu telling us in 2008 that his desire is to figure out “how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.” He is well on his way to accomplishing his goal. Nor is he showing much repentance in the face of high gas prices ruining people’s budgets (it won’t ruin his — he doesn’t drive). He recently testified before Congress that reducing gas prices was not a top priority for his department. Remind me again: why do they call it the Department of Energy? Then flash “Solyndra: $550 million wasted,” “Beacon Power: out of juice,” “Karma: The Cool Car that won’t work no matter how many taxpayer dollars are bundled into it.” Show Obama beaming inside a Volt on a factory visit, and then a Volt on fire.
There are many examples of wasted green energy boondoggles. Only the federal government using other people’s money could produce as many disasters.
Follow with Obama’s recent statement that while he is president, he will not ever give up on green energy — not ever.
That should set the right tone.
Then fade to a new scene from last April during a town hall meeting. A father of ten children complains about the high price of gasoline. Obama has one of his Marie Antionette moments (see his suggestion to hard-up farmers that they grow arugula, for example, since it sells for such a high price at Whole Foods) when he gives this sarcastic piece of advice to the needy dad:
If you’re complaining about the price of gas and you’re only getting eight miles a gallon — [laughter] — you may have a big family, but it’s probably not that big. How many you have? Ten kids, you say? Ten kids? [Laughter.] Well, you definitely need a hybrid van, then.
Being publicly ridiculed by the president of the United States on national television has to hurt. (Shades of his notorious Special Olympics joke on Jay Leno.) Who taught Barack Obama his sense of humor? Don Rickles?
Aside from the fact that no one sells a hybrid van in America, where is the empathy and fairness that the president wants voters to believe drive him? After all, high gas prices are regressive — harming the less well-off disproportionally.
Then segue to all those convoys of gas-guzzlers that Obama takes to campaign events — including Air Force One and that absurd armored bus (made in Canada) that drove him around the Midwest as he trolled for votes on our dime.
Next up: Obama deflecting calls for increased drilling by insisting that people just inflate their tires more. That is so reminiscent of Jimmy Carter’s wearing of cardigans and turning down the thermostat in the White House. Here would be a nice opportunity for a split-screen comparison of the two presidents. Americans can be reminded that apropos of Jimmy, Obama also scolded us that we can’t…well, be comfortable in our homes:
“We can’t drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times … and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK,” Obama said.
“That’s not leadership. That’s not going to happen,” he added.
There would be the added bonus of revealing the hypocrisy that is the center of ObamaWorld since, at the same time he was hectoring the rest of us to sacrifice warmth so other nations would not disapprove of our lifestyles, he was turning the White House into a hot-house during winter so he could be reminded of the carefree days of his youth in Hawaii. If only we could figure out a way to harness Obama’s hypocrisy to generate energy.
Another commercial could feature his claim that increased drilling would not solve our high gas prices by showing how increased drilling for shale has produced so much natural gas that prices have plummeted, houses are far cheaper to heat than they had been for decades, and the parts of America than can take advantage of access to this bounty are becoming Boomtowns. That technology — produced by the same private companies that Obama regularly attacks — is now being used to tap vast oil riches in North Dakota. Drill, baby, drill may be derided as a bumper sticker by Obama, but not only is it sensible on an intuitive basis, but it works to lower the price of energy. The more Obama criticizes the concept that drilling leads to more energy, the more out of touch he appears to voters. His opposition to more drilling reinforces the perception (as with ObamaCare) that he ignores voters’ concerns.
Obama constantly dismisses drilling as a solution to high prices by peddling the line that it takes too long to produce results. A commercial could point out that when President George Bush issued an executive order abolishing the moratorium on offshore drilling, oil prices started falling precipitously as it became clear to the market that the administration would be adopting policies likely to produce more crude oil and lower prices at the pump. Furthermore, the ad could point out the self-defeating nature of Obama’s claim. If the reason to oppose more exploration and development is that results are in the future, there would never be a reason to encourage oil drilling.
Obama’s claim that he is concerned about America’s energy security can be belied by a clip telling Brazilian leaders how much he looked forward to America buying more oil from Brazil and video of his obsequious bow to the Saudi king.
And of course, saving the best for last, Obama’s everlasting, God-awful obtuseness can be shown for all to see by comparing the vast increase of natural gas that has come from drilling more to his plan to fill our tanks with energy derived from algae or pond scum. This proud statement is so ridiculous that even the normally staid Charles Krauthammer was driven to a comic monologue.
And he says, as we heard, drilling for oil to relieve our dependency is not a solution, it’s not a plan. He said we have to go to clean energy. He talks about something really revolutionary today. Algae. A $14 million grant for the development of algae. It’s not oil. His solution is algae. And because we know that the Secretary of Energy is physicist that won the Nobel Prize, the president knowing this stuff said that one of the reasons we should do this is because we can grow algae here in the United States.
Now, it happens that algae will grow on anywhere on earth. I looked it up while I was away for those three days. You thought I was sunning myself. I did research. It grows in oceans, in lakes and ponds, in your swimming pool when the pool man is on vacation. In snow, in ice, on soil, on turtles, on sloths, the bark of trees and rocks. Why are we drilling for oil? We are the Saudi Arabia of rocks. We have a mountain range called the Rockies and we are allowing ourselves to be dominated by these oil producers. I think he’s on to something here that is truly revolutionary. Why would you build a pipeline, the Keystone pipeline with real oil from Canada to put in real refineries and put in real existing cars when you can do algae? I think he is on to something. And I think this shows the vision, the hope and change he promised in 2008.
Humor always sells. Sadly, there is nothing funny about the people in charge of energy policy. Nor is there anything funny about the numbers we see spinning by as we fill our cars while emptying our bank accounts.