by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
President Joe Biden has a message for the American people about the precipitous increase in gas prices through which we have now been suffering for nearly a year: “They’re going to go up.” Peremptorily addressing reporters in Fort Worth, Texas, yesterday, Biden tried out a new explanation for this trend. “Can’t do much right now,” he said. “Russia is responsible.”
This, evidently, is the White House’s new line. Adumbrating the approach in today’s Washington Post, Democratic pollster Celinda Lake cast the invasion of Ukraine as a welcome break for the administration. “The good news,” she wrote, “is we now have a very specific reason for rising gas prices and a specific villain. Before, it was kind of ambiguous: What’s going on? Why are gas prices going up?”
Say what you will about Vladimir Putin, but at least he’s a specific villain!
Lake’s account is, of course, absolute nonsense. It is true that for the last two weeks Russia has shared the blame. But President Biden’s energy policy has been incoherent from the moment he took office, and it shows. Stuck between an oil-phobic progressive movement and a supermajority of American car-lovers, Biden has vacillated without relief. Insofar as he has one, his position seems now to be (1) that the United States should not take dramatic steps to increase our domestic energy production because that will only help in the long term, not the short term; (2) that the United States should not take those long-term steps — steps that would be helping now, had they been taken earlier — because to take them would be bad for the climate; (3) that, having not taken those steps, in the short term all we can do is raid the strategic petroleum reserve, because, being upstanding sorts, we don’t buy oil from immoral countries (except for Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela, whose oil we’ll happily purchase).