Most politicians can escape bad news or gaffes unless they reinforce already-held suspicions. That rule explains why President Obama is extra vulnerable to rising gas prices.
The narrative working against him starts with Obama’s 2008 statement that his carbon taxes would cause electricity rates to “skyrocket.” It includes his future energy secretary, Steven Chu, saying the same year that America must “boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.”
Then there is Obama’s repeated demonization of oil companies and massive subsidies for failed solar companies like Solyndra and electric cars nobody wants to buy. Throw in his rejection of the Keystone pipeline from Canada and it’s not only easy to paint a picture of callous disregard for prices, it’s accurate.
Just last week, Obama labeled oil “the fuel of the past,” which is news to Americans paying $60 or $70 at the pump. Prices have gone up $2 on his watch, to an average of about $3.85 for a gallon of regular.
Obama accepts no responsibility, of course, even though he faulted President Bush when prices reached current levels in 2008. Yet Obama is worried enough about the impact that he speaks on the subject almost daily.
The problem is, he has offered nothing that rebuts the impression he doesn’t care about prices. On one hand, he argues that imported oil is down and American production is up, then rails that more drilling isn’t the answer.
He says Republicans belong to the “flat-earth society” for wanting to drill more, then says he’ll appoint a “task force” to look into costs.
Aides say supply is not the issue, then whisper they might add to it by releasing oil from the strategic reserve.
So is the president.