Bill Murchison

BA-ROOM, BA-ROOM, (CLUNK) -- hear the demagoguery machines as they rev up in Washington, D.C.

If the wizards who run the machines produced half as much energy with their policies as they do with their lungs, America would be in terrific shape for energy.

Politico's Mike Allen telegraphs the president's intentions (after two days on the Gulf Coast and an Oval Office address) for the tussle over using the oil spill to leverage energy policy. According to Allen, Democratic National Committee pollster Joel Benenson, who also strategizes for the administration, titles the Democratic vision "Making BP Pay Isn't Enough." That is, we can't stop with mere punishment.

Point 1 in the Benenson scenario: "Frame the opposition: Big Oil and corporate polluters who have blocked energy reform for decades," plus "Politicians protecting the special interests that fund their campaigns."

Rush Limbaugh

Point 2: "Illustrate the costs of our dependence ... $1 billion a day in foreign oil. Oil spill destroying jobs and livelihoods."

Point 3: "Put Americans back in control of our energy situation. Cut foreign oil spending in half. Invest in energy that's made in America and create millions of jobs for Americans."

A major point about the Benenson points: the political nature of the whole exercise. It's all about making a spectacle of "Big Oil" and "Corporate polluters." Don't stop to analyze -- call names, make the voters want to beat up on the so and so's. By contrast, make the same voters fall in love with the white political knights riding to the rescue of those set upon by the trolls and gnomes of the oil industry.

Here we go again, in other words. Will Jimmy Carter take a bow? The late -- politically late, that is -- Mr. Carter sought to demagogue his way through the energy crunch of the late '70s with attacks on oil companies and attempts to ensnare their "windfall profits."

The Obama energy policy, whose emergence from obscurity coincides with the administration's felt need to bare teeth at Big Oil, is going nowhere in a Congress saddled with economic challenges. The point isn't passage anyway, it's -- that word again -- demagoguery; railing at the malefactors of wealth in order to stir up voter reaction.


Bill Murchison

Bill Murchison is the former senior columns writer for The Dallas Morning News and author of There's More to Life Than Politics.
 
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