Last night I watched appearances by Hillary and Obama in Texas on C-Span. The difference between the two candidates was revealed for me by their statements about oil policy.
Hillary speaks of Bush and Cheney as "the two oil men" in the White House. She goes on about the oil "cartel" and the special interests. She promises to bring gas prices down. Hillary’s answer strikes me as pandering. She is selling Americans a
pipedream about prosperity–gas prices can’t come down, and she knows it–in order to try and keep her working-class vote. She has found a demagogue’s bogeyman: the oil companies (and yes, also "Wall Street"). And she is misleading the public about the causes of our miserable policies in the Middle East (purely for
Obama is much more serious. When asked by a student at a town hall in Carrollton, Tx, what he will do about "increasing oil prices," he first jokes with his questioner, "Do you want me to increase them?" then handles the question subtly. He talks about driving past a Hummer dealership on the way to the speech. He says that Hummers get only 10 miles a gallon. He suggests that that is wrong, without saying it should be illegal. He says we have to raise fuel efficiency standards in cars to 40 mpg. He says that we are using too much oil and that this is making us dependent on foreign governments and limiting our freedom to make foreign policy in the Middle East. He talks about global warming and alternative sources of energy. He cracks another joke about the Hummer….
As a leftwinger who believes first in conservation, I see all my progressive issues latent in Obama’s answer. He obviously knows the issue from a leftwing perspective. As he knows the Israel/ Palestine issue from a progressive perspective. But he disguises this analysis brilliantly, in a way that will be palatable to Americans generally.
Just as Reagan took conservative issues and marketed them to a majority of the American people, a big majority at that, Obama is marketing leftwing issues to the American majority. That is his political genius. Yes I am disappointed that he is not being more upfront about the issues I care about. But guess what, I’m sitting at a desk (in a proudly cold house!) in upstate New York and he’s addressing multitudes in his severe black suit. No we’ve never seen anything like this before. My side is coming in.