President Obama's political opponents have seized upon his support of alternative energies to fault his administration for rising gas prices. Today, the President fought back, assailing his critics as being myopic members of a "flat earth society."
It's a presidential election year, and President Obama is presiding over a fragile economic recovery. Wages are stagnent, and rising gas prices have become a bread and butter issue for Americans. Republican presidential prospects took notice of the President's falling approval numbers, which correspond with prices at the pump.
The Republicans have laid the blame squarely on President Obama, and have ridiculed his steadfast focus on an energy mix that includes renewable energy sources as well as energy efficiency. Here are some examples of what's being said:
Mitt Romney: joked that Obama would put windmills on cars, and accused the President of living in an "imaginary" world where clean energy powers everything. Romney had called for action on climate change as recently as 2010.
New Gingrich: suggested that Air Force One be fueled by algae, accused Obama of being in "cloud cucckoo land," and deemed alternative energy sources to be "leftist" technologies. He promised US$2.50 gas prices if elected.
Rick Santorum: rejects science as a hoax, having stated, "tell that to a Plant How Dangerous Carbon Dioxide is," and attacked his rivals for having accepted climate change science - before they rejected it upon seeking higher office.
For kicks, here is a video of Gingrich and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi calling for energy innovation and action on climate change:
Now, president Obama has fired back, insulting his opponents' alleged lack of vision. He compared the Republicans (in a straw man swipe) to ex President Rutherford B. Hayes, who marveled at the invention but thought that nobody would ever want to use a telephone. Left leaning political Web site Talking Points Memo captured Obama's comments today. Obama said:
"Now, here's the sad thing. Lately, we have heard a lot of professional politicians, a lot of the folks who were running for a certain office, who shall go unnamed, they've been talking down new sources of energy. They dismiss wind power. They dismiss solar power. They make jokes about biofuels. They were against raising fuel standards. I guess they like gas guzzlers. They think that's good for our future. We're trying to move towards the future. They want to be stuck in the past."
Meanwhile, Obama is forging a bilateral agreement with the United Kingdom to release strategic oil stocks in an effort to ease gas prices, TPM reports. Afterall, it is an election year, and he has described his energy policy as an "all of the above" type plan.
The President's State of the Union address hailed record U.S. gasoline production (now the number one national export) and called for more oil and gas exploration. Indeed, the U.S. just became the leading exporter of dry natural gas. Whether Obama's policies are what actually increased production is open to debate.
Obama has a right to defend himself. Failing to defend ones self against accusations - true or otherwise - is a political death sentence in today's 24/7 soundbite and slogan driven zeitgeist. Sadly, it can't be assumed that the public is informed on the issues or listens to information that is outside of their respective political viewpoints. America is deeply polarized.
What I object to is making light of a serious issue, and I am on Obama's side on this one. Even if Republican candidates do not believe in manmade climate change, the consequences of inaction are too great for them to not suggest another physically plausible alternative. It is not constructive to politicize science and technologies.
Isn't it time to take governance seriously?