Thursday, March 15, 2012

Gas prices, Barack and Bush, the differences are important

On the Fox Special Report panel tonight Kirsten Powers made the argument that Republicans were guilty of hypocrisy for blaming the President for high gas prices since the last time they spiked under Bush Republicans argued that the president could do little in the short run to change gas prices.  In politics a charge of hypocrisy is never without some merit, but in this case to rest on claims of hypocrisy leaves a great deal of import out.

First, one should note that Powers has framed the argument in terms that support her point.  If we are talking about just what a president can do in the short term then there is merit in claiming blaming Barack for not immediately doing something to bring gas prices down is unfair.  But that isn’t the whole of it by any means.  To wit:

1)      Barack Obama isn’t just president he is the leader of the Democratic Party, the liberal-progressive party in US politics.  It is undeniable that the Democratic Party has been for decades at best ambivalent and at worst hostile to the production of traditional energy sources like gas, oil, and coal, favoring instead conservation and the development of “green” energy.  You cannot take that politic position for long periods of time and then be blameless when the price of gas goes up, price being inextricably tied to supply.

2)      If drop in approval or blame is looked at from a longer perspective the hypocrisy recedes.  Bush after all was an oil man; he wasn’t opposed to the production of more gas and oil and neither was the political party he represented.  Can anyone see Obama involved in an energy company except a Solyndra?   

More to the point, the current high price suggests repeated occurrences in the future.  Which party do you think is more likely to make sure the problem doesn’t continue to pop up with greater frequency and severity, the party opposed to ANWR, and which has held up the Keystone pipeline “for more study” or the opposition?

3)      Finally, it’s a bit rich for the Democratic Party and liberals to suggest that government can’t really do much so don’t blame us.  This is the Democratic Party for which the animating idea has been, at least during my lifetime, that government not only can but must step in to address any problem however small.  Such modesty on the part of liberals is a good clue that the problem in question has liberal fingerprints.

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