The blame-Obama game

It’s silly to think one man controls world gasoline prices

Why are gas prices so high? To hear the Republican candidates for president, it’s all President Obama’s fault. And voters seem to agree with them. A recent Washington Post poll showed that 65 percent of them disapproved of the way he was handling the price hikes.

That’s silly when you think about it. As Paul Bledsoe, strategic adviser to the Bipartisan Policy Center, told the Washington Post, “This notion that a politician can wave a magic wand and impact the 90-million-barrel-a-day global oil market is preposterous.”

The Republicans are saying Obama has not done enough to promote domestic drilling, but in fact, as the Post reports, the U.S. drilling-rig count is twice as high now as it was in 2009 and higher than in any years since the early 1980s. The president has pursued a two-pronged approach to decreasing dependence on foreign oil: increasing domestic production while raising efficiency standards for automobiles.

But the Republicans want to make the president look bad, so they blame him for the gas prices. It’s ironic, because one of the many factors contributing to the increases is increased speculation in the markets caused by anxiety about a possible war with Iran—something the Republicans seem eager to start. Thus they’re getting a two-fer: They can sound tough on Iran and at the same time drive up gas prices, hurting the president’s re-election chances.

It’s come to this: The Republicans are glad gas prices are going up. They’re also hoping the improving economy does a turnaround and goes sour again. How else can they win in November and fulfill Sen. Mitch McConnell’s No. 1 goal for America, defeating Obama?