Less grist for gasbags

    Has anyone noticed that Republicans have largely gone mute on the subject of gas prices?What a difference a month makes. As April dawned, pain at the pump was a Republican rhetorical staple, prices were supposedly the highest in recorded human history and still climbing, $4-a-gallon gas was imminent – and, naturally, it was all President Obama’s fault.
    Yet today, we’re not hearing their mantra very often. Now why would that be?Because, for weeks now, the price at the pump has been falling. This price decline – the new national average is $3.80, down 10 cents from a month ago – has not been a big story in the media, for two reasons: Bad news is newsier than good news; and people who scream and yell about gas prices are newsier than people who suddenly go mum about gas prices.Republicans are mostly in mum mode today. No surprise there; a drop in price is less grist for the gasbags. Politically, it does them no good to acknowledge the 10-cent national decline (according to economists, that decline gives consumers an extra $37 million a day to spend elsewhere). Indeed, they’d prefer that nobody notice the drop in pump price, lest voters recognize the fraudulence of their original attack on Obama.The price of gas has fallen for the same basic reason that sent the price soaring in the first place. It’s a little something called the global market. Presidents have scant influence over this market, for good or ill. The price at the pump spiked early this year because of a spike in the price of crude oil; the price of crude spiked because soaring world oil demand (especially from India and China) collided with lagging oil production (especially in Saudi Arabia, Libya, and Iran – the latter, because tougher western sanctions have made it harder for Iran to sell its oil). Moreover, a few American refineries were being shuttered. All these developments, particularly fears of an Iranian supply crisis, prompted oil speculators (hedge fund and money managers, who bet on future supplies) to bid up the global price of crude.Now the global market factors have shifted, and the price spike is gone. Saudi Arabia and Libya are now producing a lot more oil. According to The Wall Street Journal, OPEC members are ramping up production to compensate for the loss of Iranian supply. The American refineries slated for shutdown are now likely to stay open under new owners. And the economic woes in Europe have helped ease demand. Plus, looking long term, Americans are demanding less gas because the cars they drive are increasingly more fuel efficient.You’ll note that one word was missing from the last two paragraphs: Obama. Like any president who would have been serving in 2012, he didn’t cause the price hike, nor did he precipitate the price drop. Shockingly, America does not have manifest destiny to aid its motorists in the pursuit of happiness. It’s all about the global market, global supply and demand. That’s capitalism, gang.But wait a second…If we were take the original Republican position at face value (with a straight face), if we were to ignore global economic reality and instead assert that Obama warrants blame for the price spike – in other words, that an American president controls the price of gas – then does it not logically follow that Obama should get the credit for a 10-cent drop at the pump? Right?So, are any Republicans saying that? Hello out there? Anybody home?  ——-

    Meanwhile, in the latest episode of the hit scandal show, Mad Man:

    John Edwards sought to convince Cheri Young, wife of obsequious aide Andrew Young, that Andrew should fall on his sword for the Edwards campaign and falsely announce that he was the father of Rielle Hunter’s love child. Cheri was naturally horrified. She screamed at Edwards, “Absolutely not!” But Edwards persisted, telling her that she should come “on board” and agree to the plan. He was running for president, after all. He told her “This is it! This is our time!” Conspiring to cover up his paternity would be “good for America.”

    All dialogue in this script came directly from the yesterday’s court testimony.

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    Follow me on Twitter, @dickpolman1

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