Archive for Friday, March 7, 2008

Bush fails test as Average Joe

March 7, 2008


Here's how it is out there. A while back, I was at the self-checkout counter of a hardware store. A young man approached and offered to put my $20 purchase on his store gift card if I would give him $10 in cash. He said he had no money for gas.

I let him put my purchase on his card, but I gave him the full amount back. It was the second time in a week I'd been asked by a stranger for help in filling the tank. And this was before last week's prediction of a spike in gas prices to $4 a gallon.

So I am intrigued by the following exchange between President Bush and CBS News reporter Peter Maer at a news conference last week. "What is your advice," began Maer, "to the average American who is hurting now, facing the prospect of $4-a-gallon gasoline, a lot of people facing ..."

The president stopped him. "Wait, what did you just say? You're predicting $4-a-gallon gasoline?"

Well, it wasn't him personally, explained Maer. "A number of analysts are predicting $4-a-gallon gasoline," he said.

The president was stunned. "Oh, yeah?" he said. "That's interesting. I hadn't heard that."

Headline news all over the country, but he hadn't heard it. And it's "interesting."

It will come as a surprise to no one that many, if not most, of our leaders are out of touch with the realities of everyday American life. One is reminded of the president's father pronouncing himself "amazed" back in '92 when he encountered a simple bar code scanner. And of candidate Bill Clinton scoring debate points because he knew the price of a gallon of milk. The Beltway crowd wondered why that mattered.

We are used to them being disconnected. But this particular disconnect is telling.

When it comes to our national leaders, we have historically required two incongruous things. We want them to be one of us, but we also want them to be better than us. That is, we want them to have gravitas and smarts and yet, be just one of the guys or girls. That's why every election season finds millionaires and Ivy League alumni hanging out at county fairs, pleading for votes while eating fried Oreos.

With George W. Bush, one of those requirements - gravitas, smarts - was taken off the table. He was, we were told, just an everyman, a simple, God-fearin' guy guided not by pointy-headed intellectuals with their pie charts and prognostications, but rather by his feelings, his instincts, his gut. So he didn't need, for instance, to consult a bunch of State Department eggheads about Vladimir Putin because he'd seen Putin's soul.

It is perhaps no coincidence that Bush has said he regards his presidency as a vindication of the C student. Even the editorial page editor of the Wall Street Journal, as reliably conservative a newspaper as exists in the English language, once described him as having "no intellectual pretensions." It was meant as a compliment.

Bush is the perfect president for an era wherein the nation seems increasingly disdainful of intellectualism, where it turns out many of us are, indeed, not smarter than a fifth-grader, and educators and politicians can breezily dismiss the theory of evolution and not be hooted off the public stage.

George W. Bush, Average Joe, fits right in. Except that seven years, a useless war and a disastrous presidency later, the price of gas is headed for a ruinous record and President Average Joe hasn't even heard. Yeah, yeah, I know. Cut him some slack. It's not like he has to gas up the presidential limousine himself.

But I see nothing unfair in judging the president on the terms he himself has chosen. He may not have gravitas, the thinking went. He may not have piercing intelligence. But he's one of us.

Think again. Apparently, he's not even that.

- Leonard Pitts Jr., winner of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, is a columnist for the Miami Herald.


Richard Heckler 9 years, 8 months ago

The Bush war of choice is quickly increasing the real price of gasoline to say $8-$15 per gallon while the USA oil cartel rakes in billions upon billions upon billions. Go consumers!

Boycott is the best economic tool american has. Soooo park those vehicles and stay home walk,bike and do the T at every possible opportunity.

staff04 9 years, 8 months ago

I don't really care about what Pitts has to say, but I will say that I was shocked and somewhat offended as I watched that presser live. "There's no recession, but how would I know? I don't even know what the biggest national headline of the day is."

chet_larock 9 years, 8 months ago

just a few minutes later during the exact same press conference - Bush refused to answer a question he didn't like, citing a pretty amazing reason.

"I, frankly, have been focused elsewhere," Bush said, "like on gasoline prices."

BigAl 9 years, 8 months ago

Bush and Cheney told us that the Iraqi war would be paid for with Iraqi oil.

There are no conspiracy theories. Simple fact that Big Oil in this country is having record profits along with their Bush/Cheney tax cuts. Nothing short of war profiteering.

average 9 years, 8 months ago

World oil production is higher than it was in 2000. It has been flat at best (85 Mbpd) since about 2004. Declining slightly since 2005 if you don't count natural gas liquids (propane) in the total. Not a shock, of course. The world pumped more oil out of the ground than we have booked as "discoveries" every single year since the mid-1960s. So, yeah, oil production will start to retreat, just like it inexorably did in the United States starting in 1971.

jumpin_catfish 9 years, 8 months ago

None I repeat none of these yahoos we send to washinton are average joes or janes. Oh they may start out with great intentions (insert road to hell saying here) but they all soon become freaks and Bush started as the son of one of those people so there you are.

daddax98 9 years, 8 months ago

"After we have a Dem derail the progress in Iraq, get a new plan on your wheels, we'll be staring down the bunghole of a $200 +++++ barrel of oil then."

Is this your underhanded way of admitting that we did indeed attack Iraq for oil?

ndmoderate 9 years, 8 months ago

But, but Clinton.....

Oh wait--Kevin got booted again.

Never mind. Carry on.

marcdeveraux 9 years, 8 months ago

I think its time the people linking Mr. Obama with muslims and pronouncing his name as O'bama admit what has become clear. The republican party is rife with war mongering racists ,who do not have the intestinal fortitude to admit what is now for all to see.The neocons have been a disaster for the U.S.,and that a " fundie christian" was the wrong choice to lead this country.The r.t. crowd live in a separate reality. Men are always right(esp. white men),war is good for the economy,and money is more important than morals.A 150 years or so ago, an native american said something like this.When the last animal is killed, the last fish caught,the last plant eaten, then white men will know they cannot eat their money.It is time to evolve.

average 9 years, 8 months ago

"So which is it, lefties? Is oil expensive because the world economy is booming ("demand continues to rise rapidly") Or because of the war?"

Prices are mildly up in the rest of the world because of growing demand, instability, and geologic problems increasing supply. Prices are sharply up in the US, because spending $3 trillion on a war while cutting taxes has meant that we've "taxed by other means" (devalued the hell out of the dollar).

a_flock_of_jayhawks 9 years, 8 months ago

posessionannex (Anonymous) says:

"Wow, this is going to kill Bush in November. Wait, is Bush running for president?"

No, but it will surely cause serious harm to the fellow he is endorsing. McCain may just pay W to stay within the doors of the White House and shuddup!

a_flock_of_jayhawks 9 years, 8 months ago

autie says, "Buy gas as you need it in small amounts. The net effect will lessen demand."

I agree with the strategy, but there's something interesting going on in the demand space of this. Right now, despite the fact that Americans are, in fact, tightening their belts and the overall gasoline usage has slightly declined, the price has continued to increase. If demand goes down and supply stays pretty much static, then why wouldn't prices decline. One part of the answer...the futures traders. They are buying into oil at a healthier clip than normal with the idea that the price and overseas demand will continue to trend upward. I thought it was very interesting.

Ralph Reed 9 years, 8 months ago

RT, your first comment was outta line and you know it. Instead of attacking what was said and refuting it, you go right for the juglar, engaging your ad hominen attacks right from the start. Well done.

About the comments that we went into Iraq for the oil. How could you think otherwise? The surface reasons may have been WMD, failed state and others, but the real reason is the oil.

a_flock_of_jayhawks 9 years, 8 months ago

Dollypawpaw (Anonymous) says:

"When gas gets to $12 a gallon I'll start to think about conserving."

Which is why it is painfully obvious to everyone that you are part of the problem.

average 9 years, 8 months ago

"If demand goes down and supply stays pretty much static, then why wouldn't prices decline."

Because oil is traded on a global market, and there's a couple of million new cars in China saying demand hasn't gone down one bit.

a_flock_of_jayhawks 9 years, 8 months ago

"Because oil is traded on a global market, and there's a couple of million new cars in China saying demand hasn't gone down one bit."

Yep, you are absolutely correct. And the futures traders are banking on it.

RedwoodCoast 9 years, 8 months ago

"Vindication of the C student". Personally, I'd prefer a president who is more intelligent than I am.

Mkh 9 years, 8 months ago

Folks, as was discussed just last week... The main reason Oil has gone from $28 to $100 since 2000 is the destruction of the dollar. Oil is pegged to the dollar on most of the world's market, but nations are ditching it quick. This is evident by oil's relative rise to gold.

In the last 12 days we've seen the most dramatic drop in the dollar in modern history. Greenspan has openly been telling OPEC countries to drop the dollar and the CFR has publicaly said they advocate destroying the dollar (they also push the Amero).

Now have geo-political events such as the Iraq war contributed to the price, yes of course, but not in the same relation as the dollar and not how most of you think. The fact is the Iraq war has led to a almost total diminishment of oil production in the country, and that has cut much need production in a demand starved energy market.

My point? This problem is not going to be fixed when W leaves office and either McCain, Hillary, or Obama step in. None of these would be presidents will fix the dollar crisis or stop inflation, infact things will probably get even worse as the next president inherits the "worst business cycle since the great depression".

Mkh 9 years, 8 months ago

Scenebooster: You forgot Skull & Bones and the son of former President/VP/CIA Director.

BigAl 9 years, 8 months ago

I absolutely do not think there is any oil conspiracy. I just want to know why the Iraq war is not being paid for with Iraqi oil as promised by Bush and Cheney.

I would also like to know why Big Oil is having record profits during war time and it is not being considered as war profiteering.

sfjayhawk 9 years, 8 months ago

RT - do you really think Bush has been a good president and has done a great job? I understand you being a conservative and hating everyone that is not, but seriously, even you have to admit that the bush years have been a disaster.

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