Layers of disingenuity -

Layers of disingenuity


From AP by way of Talkingpointsmemo:

Democrat Barack Obama, the first black candidate with a shot at winning the White House, says John McCain and his Republican allies will try to scare them by saying Obama “doesn’t look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills.”

Obama didn’t make clear what distinctions McCain was likely to raise regarding the presidents on U.S. currency, men who are white and, for the most part, much older than Obama when they were elected. McCain has not raised Obama’s race as an issue in the campaign, though he has said that Obama lacks experience.

Stumping in an economically challenged battleground state, Obama argued Wednesday that President Bush and McCain will resort to scare tactics to maintain their hold on the White House because they have little else to offer voters.

“Nobody thinks that Bush and McCain have a real answer to the challenges we face. So what they’re going to try to do is make you scared of me,” Obama said. “You know, he’s not patriotic enough, he’s got a funny name, you know, he doesn’t look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills.”

The McCain campaign did not have an immediate comment when asked Thursday about Obama’s remarks.

Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs said the senator was not referring to race.

“What Barack Obama was talking about was that he didn’t get here after spending decades in Washington,” Gibbs said Thursday. “There is nothing more to this than the fact that he was describing that he was new to the political scene. He was referring to the fact that he didn’t come into the race with the history of others. It is not about race.”

Oh, please. Of course Obama was referring to race.

Let’s be clear. I think McCain has run the more disreputable campaign over the last few weeks. He seized on a cancelled visit to a military hospital during Obama’s overseas tour to — should I bother with a euphemism? Nah — lie repeatedly about Obama’s sensitivity and patriotism. He has been flummoxed by the Iraq government’s support for a timeline on U.S. troop pullouts that more closely resembles Obama’s policy than his own. He has been reduced to complaining that Obama travels abroad, after repeatedly urging Obama to travel abroad. And now, with this Britney/Paris/Obama ad, he has mixed images of a handsome black man with pretty white women on the flimsiest of pretexts. This has led to questions about what McCain is hinting at.

So along comes Barack Obama to say — what, precisely? That McCain is “trying to make you scared of me” because Obama “doesn’t look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills.”

Let’s assume Robert Gibbs is not, himself, a bad liar. If Obama is not referring to race, what is he talking about?

That Obama “didn’t get here after spending decades in Washington”? I’m no presidential scholar, but off the top of my head, neither did Presidents Bush (43), Clinton, Carter, Roosevelt (Teddie), Lincoln, and I’m sure I’m missing some others. That he’s “new to the political scene”? Oh yeah, that will explain the “funny name” bit too. When I moved to Ottawa, Stephen Harper and Allan Rock were new to the Canadian political scene, and all the old-timers would spend hours at the Press Club laughing uncontrollably. “Har-per! Rockrockrockrockrock! Harrr-puuuuuur! Have ya ever heard the like?!!!”

No, clearly Obama’s words must be taken at face value. McCain wants to make Americans afraid of Obama because he does not actually closely resemble the presidents on U.S. banknotes.

I can see the strategy meeting now. The McCainocrats are sitting around a table, pulling their hair out. “Iraq was a dream trip! Berlin was a bit stiff, but he didn’t face-plant! Now what are we gonna do?”

Terrified pause.

The guy from Halliburton has a brainstorm. “Wait a minute. Give me some money.”

The others sigh and roll their eyes. “What, again?”

“No, no, I’m not asking for another government grant. Give me some cash! Some bills! I want to check something.”

They rummage around in their pockets and pull out a few wads of banknotes. Halliburton Guy starts rifling through them.

“Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Hamilton, Grant… Holy cow. Obama doesn’t look like any of these guys.”

The others stare at Halliburton guy. Finally Rove Deputy A asks what they’re all thinking. “What are you getting at?”

“Just look. He doesn’t have a beard like Lincoln and Grant. His hair’s way shorter than Jefferson’s and Hamilton’s. None of them had a chin as big as Obama’s. If he was elected, he would look like some kind of whole new president.”

Silence as light bulbs go on over a couple of heads. Halliburton Guy lets it sink in.

“I mean…don’t you think that’s just a bit…scary?”

Rove Deputy B chimes in. “Yeah. Yeah! Think of it. You’re watching TV and suddenly they cut in and the presidential seal appears on the screen and then suddenly you’re looking at some stranger!”

Rove Deputy A finally gets it. “A stranger with short hair and a long chin and no beard. A guy who looks nothing like the other presidents on the dollar bills.”

Halliburton Guy is now jotting down notes on a pad of paper. “Whereas at least Kerry looked a bit like Andrew Jackson. He wouldn’t be jarring at all! And McCain — well, McCain could be the spitting image of —”

” — Harry Truman!” says Rove Deputy A happily.

“Herbert Hoover!” says Arizona Senatorial Staffer.

“Herbert Hoover?” says Rove Deputy B.

“Well, do you know what Herbert Hoover looked like? He could look like McCain for all you know.”

“Fair point,” says Halliburton Guy. “The important thing is that we’re not talking about race.”

“Oh hell no,” says Rove Deputy B. “I never thought you were.”

From there it’s only a short detour to Creative, where the designers and the web guys come up with a slate of ads designed to cleverly but subtly exploit Obama’s inability to resemble previous presidents. Rejected slogans: “Obama. How are you gonna pay for a pizza with that mug?” and “Obama. Sure it’s a funny name, but you can’t buy a pizza with it.” and “Obama. Too liberal for too long, and you can’t buy a pizza if his face is on the bill.” and “Obama. It almost spells BOO!”

No, I’m pretty sure Obama is accusing the McCain camp of race-baiting. It is odd that this sort of accusation can fly, while everyone involved denies that this sort of accusation is flying. But with three months to Election Day, one presumes the various camps will have time to get over their shyness.


Layers of disingenuity

  1. Well, I suppose that Obama could look like Presidents Bush, Clinton, Carter, and Roosevelt as none of them has made it to a dollar bill. Even Lincoln was exiled to the $5, that unwanted step-child of folding money.

  2. This is the new politics. He is the person we have been waiting for apparently. Whee.

  3. Neither Franklin ($100) nor Hamilton ($10) were ever President.

    However, I’m inclined to agree with the thesis. We don’t need any more prime ministers with that weird collar thingy, like Laurier and MacDonald.

  4. I am not an Obama fan but his campaign has been genius. Axelrod and co. have basically been able to paint any criticism of Obama as being racist so it’s virtually impossible to critique his ideas and plans without being accused of something.

    I am not a presidential scholar either but I think you are correct Paul in pointing out they were talking about race. Americans don’t have tradition of voting for long-serving Senators, which is one of the myriad of facts working against McCain.

  5. Great post.

    I myself won’t vote for any prime minister that doesn’t look somewhat like the queen or a duck.

  6. There are some folks (Obamamaniacs) who have just lost all freakin’ reason. They are so hyped on “not being Roved again” that they see no issue in stooping to tactics Rove himself would be proud of.

    A good place to find them is Huffington Post – any posted comment even slightly critical of Obama is railed against as either pro-Bush or pro-Hillary.

  7. If the race card don’t fit, the attack team won’t quit

  8. I never thought I’d see the day when Democrats in the States thought that being accused of being “pro-Hillary” was a bad thing.

    U.S. Presidential election campaigns just keep gettin’ weirder.

  9. @Garth Wood, back in Clinton I, I doubt all of the dissenters against Hillary’s involvement in policy were Republicans. I suspect many of them are still around and were happy to see the inevitable candidate derailed by the Obama surge.

    Meanwhile, today’s Doonesbury tackles the issue of Hillary supporters:

  10. I ususally assume that at this level of politics no one is stupid (sometimes I’m proven wrong).

    McCain’s people clearly believe that there’s some traction in painting Obama as a vacuous dilletante who may look glamorous but doesn’t care about average Americans. They also don’t want to be seen making his race or religion an issue and have been at pains to distance themselves from any anything that hints at that (witness McCain’s quick denunciation of the New Yorker cover).

    The fact that Obama’s people want to turn McCain’s critique of their candidate into a race issue indicates that they feel the same way.

  11. I just finished an intriguing analysis of the american system and get this apparently the Democratic Party owes Hillary something and for some reason the VP position is unlikely to be the payoff instead Hillary may be offered the Senate Majority spot and if so … get this . If Obama wants to get anything done he will have to go through the two ladies Nancy and Hillary : this would be interesting!

  12. That is really weird. The Obama camp is invoking some sort of a reverse-race-baiting.

    What an upside-down world.

  13. So we’re all agreed it’s a clever tactic, then?

  14. All I know is, you can’t take the polls seriously this far out.

  15. Machiavelli aside, I can’t see it’s so unreasonable for the Obama campaign to articulate this. To my knowledge the McCain campaign has not mentioned race thusfar, but, anecdotally, when I’ve heard quasi-racist skepticism about Obama it’s been couched in precisely those terms: Can you imagine a “President Obama”? On Mt. Rushmore? Chortle-chortle-chortle.

    Why are we all so edgy about discussions of Obama’s race? Many pundits would be as shocked by “Obama playing the race card” as they would be by an outright racist attack on him; I don’t understand that. Anyway, race is one of his central aspects as a candidate. A whole lot of people are going to vote for or against him on that basis in November. I don’t think it’s so unreasonable to mention it; it’s just a ruthless preemptive attack against a threat that may or may not develop. And isn’t that the kind of president America likes? A sign of character?

  16. Neither the polls nor the pols.

  17. David: I assume this means you’ll be voting for Harper then, as he kind of resembles both.

  18. I thought the Paris/Britney ad was weird too, especially the sustained pro-Obama chanting in the background. Yeah, remind people of the crazy adulation.

  19. Jack M I think people are afraid to mention race, at least in the U.S., is because it is such a charged subject. Well known white people lose their careers if they say anything deemed controversial so I am not at all surprised by reluctance to talk about race.

    Joan T I agree ad is weird, especially the adulation bit. I wonder if the ad is not meant for broadcast but to appear on his website where only supporters will watch it and find messianic behaviour off-putting.

  20. I think the weirdest thing about the Britney/Paris ad is that McCain’s team apparently thinks Britney Spears and Paris Hilton are the second and third biggest celebrities in the world.

    That takes old and out-of-touch to whole new levels.

    Even funnier is that the Hilton’s (big McCain contributors apparently) are not amused.

    And FUNNIER STILL? The comments beneath that last article questioning which is the more tasteless Paris video, this McCain ad or her OTHER famous vid?

    Toss up I’d say.


    Finally, hands up anyone who thinks drilling for oil in the U.S. is going to have any effect whatsoever on the price of oil (let alone an effect before the end of the next President’s second term). Anyone who suggests that drilling for oil in the U.S. will effect either world oil prices or the price of gas at the pumps is either lying, or is entirely too stupid to be allowed to become the most powerful person in the world.

  21. I hadn’t thought about the “black man, white woman” angle. I would be more likely to believe that they are trying to belittle his experience but, in the process, made implications that they hadn’t necessarily intended. The stark one is that Spears and Hilton are not only celebrities, but convicted criminals and drug addicts (maybe more like Bush than Obama).

    While I generally assume that political commercials have a lot of thought put into them, this one may have been produced too quickly for such assumptions about subtext.

  22. Clearly, the McCain team have learned from the past and are planting the seeds for a similar viral campaign that unseated McCain’s 2000 GOP campaign in S. Carolina – “Barack Obama is the father of black children!”.

    I hadn’t thought about that ’til now.

  23. Dot,

    I prefer to look at the lesson of the more recent South Carolina primary and its after-effects. Obama primed black voters in particular by suggesting that such attacks were coming (as he is doing presently).

    Stage two is to twist something into a racist attack (the McCain campaign is inept, but not stupid enough to use even implied racism). Consider some of the things that were labeled “racist” by the press.

    The 2006 Bob Corker ad (which is sure to be compared to the current celebrity ad) implied multiracial sex, and so was racist (although Obama talks about his background and his being the product of a multiracial union all the time). The 3 am ad was apparently racist. Calling Obama a “fairytale” was racist. Pointing out that Jesse Jackson (who is the only person to have done so twice, noting also that the question was framed with the notion that a candidate had never won the primaries without winning south carolina – only true of the GOP) won South Carolina before but didn’t win the primaries was racist.

    If a black candidate and his campaign go out of their way to call something racist, which could, maybe be construed that way, the mostly white commentariat is going to follow suit (Obama, unlike Jesse Jackson does not use the race card often, so when he does it has considerable power). That is why Obama will be the next president, likely as the result of a major shift in the polls we are going to see in the next short while.

  24. LKO

    I have my hand up. Since Bush lifted the executive ban on offshore oil and gas drilling two weeks ago the price of barrel of oil has dropped $20.

    To what do you attribute the decline?

  25. Your analysis could be right, I don’t know.

    I was being sarcastic. It appeared to me that earlier posters were reading too much into a produced-for-web (ie for talking heads) video.

    I may date myself, but I can remember (pre AOL- Time Warner takeover) when CNN actually was not a 24 hr presidential political talk channel, and it actually covered world news events.

    These ads are designed to feed the growing appetite for something for the political programs/talking heads to talk about.

    I thought I’d try to cynically put my “spin” on this ad (as others seemed to be doing) before someone else beat me to this point (as I’m sure they have elsewhere already).

  26. Why bother attacking the guy for hinting at it? He’s already said it explicitly.

    “We know what kind of campaign they’re going to run. They’re going to try to make you afraid.

    “They’re going to try to make you afraid of me. He’s young and inexperienced and he’s got a funny name. And did I mention he’s black?”

  27. Was Julie Couillard there? Did somebody get pictures they can post?

  28. Obama has been using a variation of this line for months. He is obviously not only responding to McCain’s attacks, but also the subterranean smears produced by people outside of McCain’s campaign.

    Oh, and by the way, the same people who produced Corker’s infamous ad from 2006 are working for St. McCain’s campaign this year.

  29. That O-BA-MA!! O-BA-MA!! O-BA-MA!! chant is creepy. Scary, even.

  30. Did you mean disingenuousness? Was it a play on words implying that obviously disingenuous remarks show a lack of ingenuity? Was it a tribute to Matthew Yglesias at the Atlantic?

  31. Because Matt’s spelling and proofreading are so atrocious? That’s actually rather funny.

    I checked before I wrote. Disingenuousness and disingenuity are both English words, meaning the same thing, and disingenuity sounded odder so I went with it.

  32. Fair enough. Before I posted, I checked the two dictionaries I have handy- the Canadian Oxford and Encarta- and didn’t find disingenuity in either of them. I apoligize, and commend you for using oddness as a criterion.

  33. There have been two warring sides in McCain’s campaign, with one wanting to go high road, and the other wanting to go negative. Clearly, McCain has been going decidedly negative for the last two weeks, and to no one’s surprise, it is having an effect. Not only has he closed to within a single point, but he is forcing Obama into dumb mistakes like this one. Obama is now allowing the GOP to talk about race, a subject that was previously taboo, because he raised it first.

    As to the Britney/Paris ad, it is yet another example of the McCain campaign putting out ads that are being talked about by the mainstream media, thus multiplying their ad buy considerably. To me, the key message of the ad is, “Barack Obama is an empty suit”. The other key message, one that Obama himself is helping them with, is, “Barack Obama is arrogant and presumptious”. It all raises questions about a candidate whom Americans still really don’t know all that well. The GOP is going to try to define him and raise doubts about him before he can define himself – it’s not pretty, but it is pretty standard warfare in the political arena. If the GOP had nominated Bobby Jindal, you can guarantee you would be hearing plenty about his lack of experience.

    This race will take on a whole new dynamic come September, and it is entirely possible that Obama runs away with it at that time. It is inconceivable that McCain runs away with it — if in fact McCain wins, he will have backed into it by a very slim margin. Still, if you had told the RNC five months ago that on August 1, their nominee would be in a virtual tie with Obama Superstar, they would have been pretty pleased.

  34. So the Republicans can be racist now because Obama said they were being racist?

    How does that work?

  35. Wells, you are too funny.

  36. jwl,

    I’m no expert, but I’d attribute the recent drop in oil prices to lagging U.S. and European demand as people struggle with a sagging economy. However, I can tell you for CERTAIN that the price of a barrel of oil did NOT drop because Bush lifted the executive ban on off-shore drilling. That’s just a ridiculous thing to suggest.

    First of all, there’s still a STATUTORY ban on off shore drilling. Bush’s announcement was pretty much symbolic, and while it may add pressure for a substantive change, it is not a substantive change.

    Second, just how fast do you think oil companies can plan, build and bring online off shore drilling platforms? Forgetting for the moment that they’d first have to decide where to drill, and do surveys to see where the best drilling sites would be, just building a platform would take years and years. By my (admittedly non expert) reckoning, even if the lifting of the executive ban meant that offshore drilling was permitted (which it doesn’t) and even if the oil companies already knew where they wanted to drill, and had all the materials for the platforms bought and paid for (which they don’t) we STILL wouldn’t see a single new drop of oil come out of the off shore sites until AT LEAST 2013. And I think I’m probably being EXCEEDINGLY generous with my assumptions there.

    Would you really suggest that a symbolic announcement which opens up the door for the POTENTIAL opening up of off-shore drilling (if the Republicans re-take Congress and change the statutory bans on off shore drilling) and which wouldn’t see a single new drop of oil exploited for AT LEAST 5 years (if you have a Republican controlled Congress – yeah right – combined with the single fastest exploration and building program by an oil company ever conceived) had some effect on the international price of oil in the last two weeks?

    ‘Cause that just seems inane to me.

    The oil and gas companies aren’t even drilling in all the places they’re allowed to drill on LAND yet for Pete’s sake.

    I’d say Bush’s removal of the executive ban had about as much effect on the current price of oil as you would see if NASA announced that the Phoenix Lander had found oil on Mars.

  37. jwl,

    Here‘s a link of interest.

    Pertinent quote: “If we were to drill today, realistically speaking, we should not expect a barrel of oil coming out of this new resource for three years, maybe even five years, so let’s not kid ourselves”

    Keep in mind that that quote is about drilling offshore TODAY getting us oil 3-5 years from now. It’d still take at LEAST a couple of years on top of that to figure out where to drill and to build the platforms.

    The mere POSSIBILITY of oil 5-10 years in the future, IF Congress lifts the statutory ban (IF the Republicans retake Congress) did NOTHING to change the price of oil in July 2008.

  38. question LKO:

    pretend that futures contracts are as much an influence on world price as spot demand.

    wouldn’t then capacity going on stream 5 years from now would be a factor in the futures market now? wouldn’t the folks putting up the capital to get an oil resource into a reserve and then producing site want to secure future pricing for that supply in order to minimize risk?

    in effect, putting future supply out to satisfy future demand has an impact on the spot price?

  39. Chuckercanuck,

    Perhaps, though I’d argue that the (relatively) tiny amounts of oil we’re talking about, 5-10 years out, still wouldn’t have any tangible effect on the price of oil today. More important however is that Bush’s announcement is close to meaningless right now in terms of getting more capacity on stream. He lifted a redundant ban.

    Now, I think even Congress lifting the statutory ban wouldn’t have much impact whatsoever of the price of oil (people seem to grossly overestimate the amount of oil we’re talking about here relative to overall global supply… partly because it’s in the interests of politicians like McCain to pretend that increased American supply would be more impactful on world prices than it really would) but I at least expect people to wait until the actual statutory ban is lifted before telling me that the lifting of the ban is effecting oil prices. (The Dems right now refuse to even let that come to a vote. An instructive quote from that article: “Most energy experts and the government’s own research agency at the Energy Department have said drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf, which is now off-limits, would have no impact on current gasoline prices and probably would have none for years.

    Congressional Democrats have argued that oil companies already have large areas of (untapped) federal land and waters where they can drill for oil, especially in Alaska and off its coast“.

    Plus, we haven’t even talked about the fact that even if they drilled and got the oil, the U.S. doesn’t have the refinery capacity to actually do much with it yet. On top of lifting the ban, figuring out where to drill, building the platforms, and drilling, you’d also need to build refineries to make the stuff useful.

    There’s a reason the oil companies in the U.S. haven’t even drilled in all the places that they’re allowed to drill today. I’d be more easily convinced that giving them more places to drill would be impactful if they were already exploiting all the places their allowed to drill in 2008. But they’re not.

    Finally, let’s not forget that the price of oil is a global price. So let’s say the Americans significantly reduce their dependence on foreign oil (of course, let’s hope not too, since we’re their number 1 supplier) does that do anything to reduce increasing demand from China and India? Does it in any way prevent Saudi Arabia from lowering production if the price gets too low? Unless the Americans nationalize their oil companies and force them to sell their oil to Americans at prices below the world standard, what does it really matter where the oil comes from (in terms of price). If oil is $140 a barrel, then American oil is $140 a barrel. If it’s $50 a barrel then American oil is $50 a barrel. If we were talking about bringing on stream vast untapped American reserves that could rival OPEC then fine, it’d be significant.

    But it just isn’t.

    Increased domestic supply may be more secure. It may leave the option of radical government intervention in the markets in time of crisis more open to you. But the price of oil is set by the world market, and personally I just don’t see all the drilling in ANWR or offshore of the U.S. that one could imagine really having a truly significant effect on that.

  40. “By my (admittedly non expert) reckoning”

    Everything before and after is unnecessary.

  41. Bud,

    If you can expertly tell me how the President lifting a redundant executive ban on off shore drilling that does nothing to change the statutory ban on off shore drilling and which, even if lifted, wouldn’t produce any oil for 5- 10 years under the most optimistic of assumptions, which the U.S. doesn’t have the refining capacity to refine; and which wouldn’t produce anywhere near the oil to compete with OPEC or prevent their manipulation of international oil prices (assuming the oil companies even decided to drill out there rather than on the vast areas of land they’ve yet to drill which they are allowed to drill on today) could possibly have led to a drop in the price of oil in 2008, I’m all ears.

    Or, simply point to ANY expert who’ll say it did. Anywhere. Even a clearly biased one. ‘Cause I can’t find one single person outside of this discussion who will say that.

    As I said, I’m doubtful actual plans to drill off shore would effect the price of oil in 2008 given the amounts of oil we’re talking about, the time it would take to bring it on stream, and the total lack of refining capacity to refine it. But given that drilling off shore remains banned by federal statute, I think it’s ludicrous to suggest that the President’s symbolic action had ANY effect on the current price of oil.

  42. LKO: Here’s two sources for a start

    Any policy that causes the expected future oil price to fall can cause the current price to fall, or to rise less than it would otherwise do. In other words, it is possible to bring down today’s price of oil with policies that will have their physical impact on oil demand or supply only in the future.

    In a dramatic move yesterday President Bush removed the executive-branch moratorium on offshore drilling. Today, at a news conference, Bush repeated his new position, and slammed the Democratic Congress for not removing the congressional moratorium on the Outer Continental Shelf and elsewhere. Crude-oil futures for August delivery plunged $9.26, or 6.3 percent, almost immediately as Bush was speaking, bringing the barrel price down to $136.

    Now isn’t this interesting?

    Democrats keep saying that it will take 10 years or longer to produce oil from the offshore areas. And they say that oil prices won’t decline for at least that long. And they, along with Obama and McCain, bash so-called oil speculators. And today we had a real-world example as to why they are wrong. All of them. Reid, Pelosi, Obama, McCain — all of them.

    Traders took a look at a feisty and aggressive George Bush and started selling the market well before a single new drop of oil has been lifted. What does this tell us? Well, if Congress moves to seal the deal, oil prices will probably keep on falling. That’s the way traders work. They discount the future. Psychology and expectations can turn on a dime.

  43. Here’s one little report from the U.S. Department of Energy.

    Their (admittedly expert) analysis includes this:

    “The projections in the OCS (Outer Continental Shelf) access case indicate that access to the Pacific, Atlantic, and eastern Gulf regions would not have a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030. Leasing would begin no sooner than 2012, and production would not be expected to start before 2017. Total domestic production of crude oil from 2012 through 2030 in the OCS access case is projected to be 1.6 percent higher than in the reference case, and 3 percent higher in 2030 alone, at 5.6 million barrels per day. For the lower 48 OCS, annual crude oil production in 2030 is projected to be 7 percent higher—2.4 million barrels per day in the OCS access case compared with 2.2 million barrels per day in the reference case (Figure 20). Because oil prices are determined on the international market, however, any impact on average wellhead prices is expected to be insignificant (emphasis added).

    Now, one might argue that if Congress actually gets rid of the ban tomorrow (yeah right) and the government moves more quickly and efficiently than ever before, leasing could begin in 2009, not 2012 (this could NEVER happen in the real world of course, but I’ll give the dissenters the most rosy possible scenario). So, knock three years off their estimates (Hell, knock off 5 years off!). This all MIGHT have SOME effect on domestic prices, sometime around 2025.

    It’s overall effect on average prices will almost certainly still be insignificant though.

    Now, I don’t mean to be all doom and gloom. Maybe there’s more that can be done. There’s sure to be better ways to effect oil prices than this (such as, say, any plan that would effect oil prices before Britney Spears turns 40).

    I just mean to point out that it’s disingenuous to say that Bush’s lifting of the ban made oil prices fall when it clearly didn’t, and when the ACTUAL lifting of the REMAINING ban wouldn’t effect prices for AT LEAST a decade and a half, and then only insignificantly (if you believe the Bush Administration’s own Energy Department).

    My point about me not being an expert was meant purely to indicate that you don’t need to be an expert to see how transparently false it is to claim that Bush’s actions COULD change the current price of oil, let alone that it did.

    Now, if oil speculators are as dim witted as jwl presumes above, then maybe the Energy Department is totally wrong, and the drop in oil prices of late is actually the result of Bush’s non-impactful actions, and not a dozen other unrelated things.

    I prefer to believe it’s coincidence though rather than to assume that the futures traders trying to manipulate the price of oil both have that much immediate power, AND are that stupid. If futures traders really did cause a drop in the international price of oil in response to Bush’s announcement, then we have much bigger problems than the price of oil.

  44. A couple of other interesting points about the miraculous drop right on the day Bush made his announcement.

    It came on the Monday after oil hit it’s highest level EVER.

    It came on the Monday after the Dow Jones went down below 11,000 for the first time in two years.

    It came on the day that it was announced that European industrial production had fallen to it’s lowest level in 16 years.

    I’ve got news for everyone. Bush could have announced on July 14th that he was having a turkey sandwich for lunch, and the price of oil would have gone down significantly. Oil opened at $145.71 a barrel on the day of Bush’s speech. $145.71! It had gone up $3.24 on just the Friday before, with the DOW hitting a two year low. Bush made his announcement on a day when oil had nowhere to go but down (though I’m sure that’s a coincidence!)

    The story’s not that oil has retreated somewhat in the last month from it’s highest level in history. It’s that $118 oil suddenly seems good to the U.S., and people brag about the decline!

  45. LKO I am not impressed with your argument that facts don’t matter, only what you feel matters.

    I am not a fan of traditional economists. I think the Anon quote “An economist is an expert who will know tomorrow why the things he predicted yesterday didn’t happen today” about sums it up for me.

    However, I find behavioural economics fascinating and I think that can explain why the price of oil dropped when Bush made his speech.

  46. Facts don’t matter? When did I say that? I think facts are extremely important. And it’s true, the fact is oil dropped on July 14th, and Bush made a speech on July 14th. The fact that I don’t think the latter caused the former doesn’t mean I’m ignoring it. It’s a fact that InBev bought Anheuser-Busch on July 14th. I don’t think THAT caused the drop in oil prices either. I acknowledge that it happened on the same day though.

    Here are a couple of other interesting facts about the miraculous drop right on the day Bush made his “big” announcement.

    It came on the Monday after oil hit it’s highest level EVER. Oil opened at $145.71 a barrel on the day of Bush’s speech. $145.71! It had gone up $3.24 on just the Friday before.

    Bush’s announcement came on the first trading day after the Dow Jones Industrial Average went below 11,000 for the first time in two years. It came on the day that it was announced that European industrial production had fallen to it’s lowest level in 16 years.

    I think facts DO matter, and the fact is, oil dropped from its unprecedented high after (actually, really before, during and after) Bush’s speech on July 14th for at least a half dozen reasons, none of which were Bush’s speech.

    Bush could have announced on July 14th that he was having a turkey sandwich for lunch, and the price of oil would have gone down significantly. Bush made his announcement on a day when oil had nowhere to go but down, and SEVERAL pressing reasons to do so (not the least of which being that it had reached a historic and totally unsustainable level just two days before). However, I’m sure it’s a coincidence that Bush made a virtually meaningless policy announcement on a day that prices were pretty much guaranteed to drop. I’m sure he wasn’t waiting for the moment to be right so that he could pretend after the fact that his announcement had had an effect it pretty clearly didn’t have, and get gullible people to buy it.

    The story’s not really that oil has retreated somewhat in the last month from it’s highest level in history. It’s that $118 oil suddenly seems good to the U.S., and people are bragging about the decline!

    Behavioural economics IS fascinating. But if traders adjusted their behaviour vis-a-vis oil on July 14th based on Bush’s speech then we’re in much bigger trouble than I thought!

  47. Facts do matter.

    I just think that the fact that oil hit its highest level in history on Friday July 11th, the Dow Jones went below 11,000 for the first time in two years, and the announcement on July 14th that European industrial production had hit its lowest level in 16 years are all facts that contributed to the price of oil dropping on July 14th; while Bush making a meaningless policy announcement and InBev buying Anheuser-Busch are things that happened coincidentally on July 14th that had nothing to do with the price of oil falling.

    You look at the fact that oil fell after Bush’s speech and seem convinced that oil fell BECAUSE of Bush’s speech. That’s not a emphasis on “facts”, that’s a fundamental misunderstanding of causality.

    Correlation is not causation.

  48. I’d further add that if traders DID change their behaviour on July 14th because of Bush’s speech, then we’re in much bigger trouble than I thought.

    If the markets were that easily influenced by a President’s speeches oil never would have opened at $145.71 a barrel ($145.71!) on the morning of Bush’s speech.

    Given the state of oil and the economy that morning, Bush could have announced that he was having a Turkey sandwich for lunch and oil would have done what it did. (Though I’m sure that’s not why Bush made this essentially meaningless announcement that particular morning. He couldn’t possibly have been trying to convince people that he was responsible for the inevitable Monday decline in prices from their historic and unsustainable high. I doubt he thinks people are that gullible.)

  49. Well, Mr. wells, here is abother essay topic for you:

    Obama vs Kennedy. A lot of people are calling OB another JFK. I disagree. I say there are no similarities. But my Brother watches US news all the time, and he says I am an idiot.

    So, Mr. Wells, as an impartial, educated, experienced 3rd party, Let us put the issue to you:

    Will Obama vs Kennedy comparisoms either pro or con make any difference in the election? AND: Is OB at all anything like waht you could call “This Generation’s JFK?”

    I never knew JFK personally, But, from what I know of him, I say: OB is not JFK. What say you? Would this not be a good essay topic for your next col?

  50. It would make an excellent topic for my next column, PL, but in print I’m mostly leaving the election to my capable colleague L. Ch. S. I don’t think Obama is much like Kennedy, but I was struck by how Gary Wills was able to draw a lot of points of comparison between Obama and Lincoln in a recent New York Review of Books. Now that took chutzpah.

  51. Ok, if there was never a black president, who was that guy who provided that commanding leadership after that comet struck the Atlantic and wiped out so many American cities? It’s a shame he’s working in the private sector for Wayne industries now, the Americans could use more of his type.

    Nice try, McCain!