Oily Politicians Need The Drilling

In the Republican Deep South, truth never stands in the way of a good campaign point. Fifty-two percent of those polled by Public Policy Polling in the state of Mississippi said that President Obama is in fact Muslim, a number that narrowly surpasses the percentage of those polled in Alabama. In these two states, evolution is more wrong than Limbaugh calling Sandra Fluke a ‘slut’ on the air and students rank last in national education rankings. Now we can add another canard: the relationship between the United States and the House of Saud was started by Obama, rather than by the Bush family.

Mitt Romney has not been slow to jump on the ‘blame Obama’ bandwagon. Speaking at the port of Pascagoula, MS, a city with a large sector of the economy devoted to oil drilling, Romney cited the slow licensing and permitting of national drilling as the reason for the rise in oil and gas prices, and vowing to revive the recently defeated Keystone Pipeline measure.

Gingrich has also used the idea of national oil drilling as a way to attack Obama. While speaking at a rally in Gulfport, MS, Newt Gingrich also used this tactic. Commenting on Obama’s preference for natural gas energy over fossil fuels, Gingrich characterized local drilling as important “so that no American president will ever again bow down to a Saudi King.”

And Rick Santorum? The Red, White, and Blue Super-PAC, which supports Santorum, has bought $260,000 worth of television time to promote the idea that “under Barack Obama, America is spending $314 billion a year on foreign oil.” Again, the GOP message is that the United States must increase oil drilling and build more pipelines to solve the problem.

Clearly, then, we find this year’s GOP candidates for President of the United States doing what they do best: attacking others for their efforts rather than focusing on what can be done instead. Strangely enough, I don’t remember Obama reversing the energy policies of the country. According to On the Issues, the United States grew more dependent rather than less on foreign oil during the Bush years; Bush also spoke about the need to develop “cleaner, cheaper, and more reliable alternative energy sources.” Why is this rhetoric palatable when it comes from the mouth of a Republican President, but an attack on American citizens when it is stated by Barack Obama?

What all three Republican candidates seem to miss is Obama’s own concern over the rising prices at the pump. Citing a recent support that demonstrates the actual decrease in overseas oil spending, Obama acknowledged that rising gas prices are a problem. In his words, however, the solution is far more nuanced than his opponents want to admit. Fuel efficiency and alternative energy sources are equally, if not more important than a continued reliance on drilling and importing oil. “You and I know that there are no quick fixes to the problem, but listening {to the Republican candidates}, you’d think there were,” he said while speaking in North Carolina, adding “we can place our bets on the past, or we can place our bets on American know-how and American ingenuity and American workers like the ones here at Daimler.”

It seems that Obama’s energy policy is not that far from what George Bush spoke about when he promoted the Advanced Energy Initiative in 2005. The problem is that this kind of thinking solves problems that the GOP doesn’t want solved — at least not by Obama.  And so, rather than accepting a process that looks at a complex situation in a nuanced way, the candidates would rather mislead the American public by oversimplifying the truth.

I hate to think that citizens in any state would be misled by this kind of logic, but during this election season we’ve seen over and over again the triumph of sound bites over intelligence. Just because politicians can create a soundbite doesn’t make that sound bite any more helpful to solving our national problems than continuing to lie about Obama’s religious beliefs. But then, I don’t think these candidates want to solve this countries problems if they don’t have to – it’s easier to pander to the worst of the bigotry and ignorance in this country. I hope that voters in November will think about the depths of the issues rather than regurgitate Limbaugh, Romney, Santorum, Paul, and Gingrich’s  latest version of Hitler’s Big Lie.