Sunday, April 29, 2012

Please Mr. Lowry 3/3

Maybe as direct counter point to green energy the case of oil should be taken up. Certainly oil is a big issue and Time even recently ran several articles on how gas prices can be affected by different factors. The conclusion more or less was that American refining capabilities have decreased, global demand has increased, and uncertainty in oil rich nations has caused spikes in the price. But, overall, there still remains a surplus of oil and supply/demand factors don’t fully account for the distinct rise that Americans have seen. Mr. Lowry wittily retorts “no one seriously believes—surely not even Obama—that speculation is responsible for this year’s rise in oil prices, now beginning to recede.” Except that plenty of people not only believe it but there is ample evidence to show that prices are not tied to traditional supply and demand models. Oil prices have started to “recede” but demand has little changed. In fact, with nice weather now, gas tends to start its march toward summer peak prices. But instead they are falling, which correlates far more directly with the Iranians making fewer inflammatory remarks as of late.

But what does oil cost the American public? Obama has proposed removing $4 billion in oil subsidies multiple times to Congress. For anyone keeping count at home, along with the Buffet Rule, Obama would have generated $8.7 billion in savings per year for the government at this point. These are small but real policies that would tangibly reduce the deficit.

Aside from his obvious disdain for Obama’s policies, Mr. Lowry is really asking for big policy ideas and wide open vision. Like…Mitt? Doesn’t matter who. Big ideas are great; visionaries are important. But that doesn’t preclude substantive discourse on specific policies.

Yet the pesky reality of the American government’s leisurely pace remains. There is little way to expedite the political process these days without 60 votes in the Senate and a majority in the House. Mr. Lowry maintains that now “is a moment in the nation’s life that cries out for a clash of big ideas in a conversation that treats the public like adults.” Surely Obama’s record on international affairs is testament to his decisiveness and high-minded thinking. The struggling and slow pace of domestic changes leaves much to be desired however. This dichotomous quality—especially in light of Obama’s 2008 campaign rhetoric—seems to suggest that the presidency is more than just a vision and decisiveness. It requires cooperation and bipartisanship; pragmatism and support; strategy and diplomacy.

Perhaps the problem lies not with the president, but with other critical factors. Perhaps Obama isn’t running a “cynical, small-minded campaign.” Perhaps he is running a careful campaign cognizant of his political limitations despite his best efforts. Because no matter how visionary someone may be, there are always those with a far different vision. Mr. Lowry should know that well—he is a political writer after all.

Maybe the problem is that Mr. Lowry’s article was too short and he didn’t have space to fully explain his thoughts. It is very difficult to write in such a small space, but that would do Mr. Lowry a great disservice because he is an excellent writer and thinker.

Rich is really trying to get his two cents in; a critique to make those that disagree angry, and those that agree nod knowingly. It certainly makes the conversation interesting but does little to elevate the debate. Mr. Lowry can do better and all would benefit from his insightfulness.