I don't know whose votes the White House thinks it's going to win with this strategy:
President Obama will move aggressively this week to deflect blame for rising gas prices.
Republicans are accusing the administration of exacerbating pain at the pump with policies that raise energy costs.
Obama will visit the University of Miami on Thursday to discuss steps the administration has taken to increase domestic oil and gas production, senior administration officials said Tuesday.
He will highlight the fact that production is up and imports have fallen, and will note additional steps the nation can take to deal with higher gas prices, the officials said.
This tactic is mind-bogglingly dense, but typical of the Obama Administration's strategy of tacking so far to right on hot-button issues that they try to take the Republicans' best arguments away from them. It doesn't work, of course. Hardcore anti-immigrant racists aren't going to care how many poor Latinos the Obama Administration deports. They're going to vote against the President, anyway. In the same vein, the "drill here, drill now" crowd is going to vote against the President and against the Democrats, anyway. There's not much to be gained by talking about how much more gas and oil we're drilling now.
Meanwhile, anyone who cares about the facts knows that oil is sold on a world market, which means that producing more oil domestically doesn't mean we get to keep our hands on that lovely crude. We don't. It pumps out to the world market, where its influence on world oil prices (and thus gas prices) is basically nothing. Pumping more oil out of America makes practically zero difference to gas prices. Depending on whom you listen to, gas and oil prices are a function of two things: commodity futures speculation, and unrelenting increased demand from India and China. Neither of those are affected by the piddling amount of domestic oil being extracted now. The Canada tar sands may make a difference many, many years down the line assuming it's refined inexpensively, and assuming there are major shortages in the Middle East. And speaking of the Middle East, even if North American oil production were to increase in such a way as to affect overall supply enough to drive down prices (impossible given the numbers involved), OPEC could simply reduce its own production quotas to keep prices artificially high.
In other words, reality-based people know that domestic production has zero effect on prices, and wouldn't be able to even if it tried.
And then, of course, there's the President's utter abrogation of his base--not just among progressives, but among anyone tilting even slightly to the left on the national spectrum. There are huge numbers of Americans who are deeply concerned about climate change, about the effect of drilling and fracking on the coastal and mainland environments, and about moving to a future based on renewable energy. By highlighting his Administration's oil drilling credentials, the President leaves his entire putative voting base cold and abandoned.
Facing a summer of high gas prices, the President and his advisers had two options:
1) They could use the issue as an opportunity to go after Wall Street speculators, do a little demagoguery against Middle Eastern OPEC oil regimes, attack greedy and unpopular domestic oil corporations, make clear for the first time in American politics that drilling more oil does nothing to bring down prices, and use the issue as a launching pad for a jobs-producing American renewable energy Apollo Program;
2) Try to outdo the Republicans on "drill, baby, drill" while conceding to the right wing every fallacious argument about the relationship between domestic energy production and global energy prices.
Choice number two is such resoundingly bad politics that it matters little whether the decision was made out of a desire to please the big money on Wall Street, or whether it was made in a misguided attempt to win "centrist" voters. It's an academic argument.
Whether the President wins re-election in 2012 or not, the terms of the debate itself will set this country and the world back on the wrong track for years if not decades.
Cross-posted from Hullabaloo