Thursday, February 23, 2012

On It

For the first couple of years of the Obama administration, the complexities of ongoing policy, administrative and legislative efforts to turn this ship of state around from the Bush years and to respond to the Great Recession sometimes meant that issues that arose suddenly didn't get addressed before they mushroomed into bigger problems.  But that's not happening anymore.

President Obama directly and forcefully addressed the question of gasoline prices on Thursday.  This I expect will be just the opening salvo in a spirited counter-offensive to the disingenuous efforts of GOPers to make political hay.  Gas prices are literally where the rubber meets the road for many people, and one of the few topics that gets discussed by people who don't like to talk politics.  Where I think GOPers misread the situation is in regards to alternative energy. My touchstone here is western PA, where a local supermarket chain literally saved itself from possible bankruptcy by offering an incentive of free gas indexed to the grocery bill.  I visited there during the last gas price jump--during the Bush administration--and was surprised to hear people talking about alternative fuels.  People are interested in what works, and despite emotions they are aware of larger problems that don't have simplistic solutions, and are likely caused by international politics, financial manipulations and the agendas of oil companies. 

The McCain campaign made fun of candidate Obama's suggestion that properly inflated tires help gas mileage, yet that's precisely what people want to hear: solutions they can implement.  It can be a delicate dance--it didn't work so well for Jimmy Carter--but especially when U.S. oil production is significantly higher than under Bush (and when the government has approved more drilling than oil companies are willing to do),  the simplistic "bumper sticker" solution of drill more may not wash anymore.  And people are even more suspicious of oil companies than the government.  GOPer politicians lie just as outrageously about Obama administration policies and actions on energy as they do on--well, everything else.  So the pushback has to continue, with the facts.

For a perhaps different constituency, the Obama administration is addressing the hot topic of privacy on the Internet with a privacy Bill of Rights that the major players have signed on to.  This comes as there's more controversy among users, and concern from state attorneys-general.

Meanwhile, I expect President Obama is having urgent if off the radar meetings on Syria, where the situation is worsening, especially in the area where three journalists were killed, including a Syrian and an American who both pleaded for the outside world to pay attention to what is happening there.  Now the survivors are surrounded, and government tanks and troops are going in for the total kill.  Secretary of State Clinton is currently involved in meetings seeking international action.

No comments: