Further to Ambinder’s Folly.

Thanks to Brad Delong for taking my pique with Marc Ambinder and running with it. (In my ongoing attempt to keep some strand of overt science running through this blog while the election season has me obsessed I e-mailed the web’s reality check with my rage at Marc’s seeming pride at being as trivial as he wants to be, and said, in effect “you do it.” To my great pleasure, Brad did.

Brad did say that he thought that writing about energy and its discontents did fit the brief for this blog, so, with permission from that august source…here’s how Marc finished off his sterling performance of yesterday:

While we’ve been focusing on the race card, the Republican echo chamber has been sounding full tilt about Barack Obama’s Jimmy Carter-esque turn as advice columnist to Americans about energy. Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity spent part of their broadcast mocking Obama for urging Americans to inflate their tires to help conserve gasoline.

Obama had a point, and the auto industry recommends the same thing as do governors Schwarzenegger and Crist, but nevermind; the ridicule fix is in. An effective GOP shot.

I suppose the author of a “reported blog on politics” gets to judge whether a campaign tactic is effective. But look how he characterized Obama’s comment. Jimmy Carter-esque advice. And a quick trip to Youtube certainly shows that the echo chamber was indeed in full cry.

Now look at what Ambinder didn’t tell us. He didn’t tell us that the point Obama was making was not simply that you could save some gas with properly inflated tires — but that McCain’s energy “plan” (sic) is so feeble that its oil drilling proposals would have no effect at all for a decade, while the risible gas tax holiday would save the individual driver as much as…wait for it…properly inflating your tires.

So how come McCain’s snark, which has the merit of, in essence, encouraging people to waste gas and cash, gets the approving nod, and Obama’s on point policy jab–also couched as a snark, gets no mention. Because the GOP echo chamber told Ambinder what to cover.

If you do want to see the substance of Obama’s response to the McCain energy fantasy — really, it’s not a plan, it’s a couple of really bad ideas that we can only hope will be no worse than ineffective — read on, from the prepared remarks for yesterday’s economic security rally.

I understand the politics. In a country desperate for action, ideas like a gas tax holiday or expanded oil drilling in the waters off our coasts are popular. And I’ll say this – if there were real evidence that these steps would actually provide real, immediate relief at the pump and advance the long-term goal of energy independence, of course I’d be open to them. But so far there isn’t.

As good as they sound, the history of gas tax holidays is that the prices go up to fill in the gap, and the big winners end up being the retailers and oil companies – not the American people. That’s what happened when we had a gas tax holiday in Illinois that I supported, and that’s why we ended up repealing it. It didn’t work. And it would also drain the federal highway fund of billions of dollars and cost hundreds of thousands of American jobs.

When it comes to offshore drilling, even Senator McCain has acknowledged that it won’t provide short-term relief. In fact, if we started drilling today, we wouldn’t see a drop of oil for seven years, and even then it would have little if any impact on prices.

Meanwhile, the oil companies currently have the rights to drill on 68 million acres of land and offshore areas that they haven’t touched. I believe that before we give the oil companies any more land, it’s time we tell them to start drilling on the land they already have or turn it over to someone who will, because we need that oil. We should also invest in the technology that can help us recover more oil from existing fields. And we should also look to our substantial natural gas reserves to tap a source of energy that’s already powering buses and cars here and around the world.

In the long-term, however, we have to remember that these domestic resources are finite. Even if you opened up every square inch of our land and our coasts to drilling, America still has only 3% of the world’s oil reserves. Senator McCain may believe otherwise, but that is not a real solution to our energy crisis.

Explore posts in the same categories: bad ideas, Climate follies, Energy follies, Journalism and its discontents, McCain, Obama, political follies, Politics, Republican follies, Republican knavery, Stupidity

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One Comment on “Further to Ambinder’s Folly.”

  1. abdulla Says:

    The centrist consensus on many issues underscores an important dynamic in the 2008 political climate: At a time of growing frustration with gridlock and partisan bickering in Washington, politicians with a pragmatic, middle-course tack are thriving.

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