As someone who commutes quite a ways to work the subject of gas prices has been something very much on my mind. This weekend I paid about $6.00 more than the week before to fill up my tank. I think that's outrageous. I can't see how the consumer's pain at the pump won't translate into Republican's pain at the ballot box come November. But then I'm not a paid internet columnist like MSNBC's Elizabeth Wilner.
Having never been exposed to MSNBC's First Read I can't really speak to any bias on her part other than what I read in her piece on the politics of gas prices, but that seems to be more than enough to see that she has an axe to grind.
The gas war has begun
President Bush and members of Congress are still making their way back to Washington, but the war over who's to blame for skyrocketing gas prices is already simmering and is expected to reach full-boil status by tomorrow. There's little Bush can do about current high gas prices -- and if Democrats were running part of the government, they would find their hands similarly tied. But they're doing what they can to encourage voters to blame the majority party, and they are increasingly focusing their attacks on Bush's energy policy, the drafting of which, they remind everyone, energy companies were invited to participate in. Republican lawmakers are doing their best to deflect those efforts by taking up the cause of alleged price-gouging themselves and, now, by firing back at Democrats directly.
There is little Bush can do? Come again?
Why not tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and alleviate some of the pressure on supply?
Better yet- why doesn't Bush just get oil company executives on the phone and lay down the law threatening them with a justice department review of their business practices up to, and including, price gouging?
Why not open major diplomatic front on Iran instead of strutting and crowing to alleviate fears in the energy markets?
The questions are obviously rhetorical but the point is Bush's hands are hardly tied when it comes to gas prices.
Wilner then conveniently leaves out the accusations from actual Democrats in her piece about accusations from Democrats but does do a whole paragraph on the Republican response:
The Republican Senate campaign committee issued a detailed release accusing Democrats of trying to change the subject away from a strong US economy by focusing on gas prices. "These are the same Democrats who accomplished nothing in terms of an energy policy during eight years with President Clinton at the helm... These are also the same Democrats who obstructed a bi-partisan comprehensive energy bill for four years in Congress," the release snipes. A Senate GOP aide advises, "We expect Democrats to blame us as all summer... We expect there to be hearings, Democratic calls for 'windfall' taxes on oil company profits, tapping the strategic petroleum reserve, claims of price gouging by the oil companies, VP Cheney’s ties to the oil industry, and other nonsensical theories."
If the Democrats wanted to subscribe to sensical rather than nonsensical theories they'd join Republicans in blaming the oil crisis on the failure to dispossess Alaskan Caribou by drilling for oil that may or may not be there ten years from now.
The Republican Senators are employing an interesting strategy here: list out all the reasons they've failed in leadership on this issue then claim their opponents can't use those reasons because, well, they're Democrats and everybody knows how smelly and wrong THEY are.