Jonah Goldberg
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As gasoline prices climb, President Obama's poll numbers plummet. In February, a Washington Post/ABC poll had Obama up 6 points against Mitt Romney. Monday's poll has him down 2.

According to the polls, gas prices are a huge part of the story, particularly given how the last 30 days or so have not exactly been great for the GOP.

No wonder Obama is desperate to get out in front of the issue. The dilemma is that he's invested so much of his prestige in his energy policies that he can't admit those policies have been an abject failure. But he also can't have people thinking his policies are responsible for the energy price Americans care about most: gasoline.

"Despite the gains we've made, today's high gas prices are a painful reminder that there's much more work to do to free ourselves from our dependence on foreign oil and take control of our energy future," the president declared Monday in a statement on the one-year anniversary of his "Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future."

Let's take the second proposition first. Obama often says, "Under my administration, America is producing more oil today than at any time in the last eight years." That's true: It's also true that under Obama's administration, Snooki from "Jersey Shore" got pregnant and Charlie Sheen lost his job. And he can take about as much credit for those developments too.

Never mind that if he'd gotten the cap-and-trade proposals he campaigned on, energy prices would be even worse. (He once acknowledged that under his plan, electricity prices would "skyrocket" and coal companies would go bankrupt. His Energy secretary, Steven Chu, admitted he wanted America to emulate European gas prices, when they were about $8 per gallon.)

The boom in oil production has taken place almost entirely on private and state lands, while on federal lands it's dropped (11 percent from 2010 to 2011 alone). The administration has also slowed the permitting of offshore oil and gas development to a trickle.

Another major factor is the development of new technologies that make it possible to extract ever more fuel from domestic sources. Instead of words of support, Obama keeps telling those companies they need to be taxed more and have their subsidies yanked, and he's touting the wonder-working power of algae (a possibly valuable fuel source by the middle of the century).

Ending subsidies to business entirely, including oil companies, is a good idea. But Obama's policy is completely different. He thinks he's smarter than the market and can pick winning industries and products.

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Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the forthcoming book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
 
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