The Politics of Oil

Those who lived through the Carter years find them a painful memory of double digit inflation, unemployment and interest rates. Carter may not have directly caused the oil shocks that rocked the economy. But they happened on his watch, and he was rightly blamed for what many Americans found to be an inept response by a self-righteous man who smugly dismissed those who believed we needed more energy exploration in the U.S. to reduce our dependence on foreign sources of fossil fuels.

If the oil shocks that are now hitting Americans in the pocketbook become the defining issue of 2012, Obama will only have himself to blame. For all the goody goody talk about windmills, solar cells, biomass and green energy, even tree huggers become annoyed when forced to pay $5 or more for a gallon of gasoline.

Americans may not directly blame Obama for events that have transpired in the Middle East, but they will have little patience for his pious lectures about conservation when the jobless need jobs, factories need oil, and grandma is freezing because the cost of fuel oil has skyrocketed.

When Obama needs to do—open Alaska to more energy exploration, issue new drilling permits in the Gulf, reduce the regulatory burdens imposed on energy producers, open more public lands to energy exploration—is not hard to understand. Whether he is willing to withstand the howling from the left if he does it is another matter. Carter did not want to offend the green beans. The rest of America made him a one term President.

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