Top of the Ticket

Political commentary from the LA Times

« Previous Post | Top of the Ticket Home | Next Post »

Inside Obama's energy lecture series: Honest talk or phony outreach?

April 7, 2011 |  8:22 am

Obama off on another Air Force One trip 4-6-11

It's been years since Barack Obama pumped gas into his family Ford.

But somebody told the president that gas prices are going up (another two cents a gallon nationally just yesterday).

Not only are the gas pump price numbers spinning way faster than the gallon numbers, but there's an almost palpable public unease afoot these days.

A compendium of concerns involving a third Middle Eastern war, millions of unemployed, frightening federal deficit numbers, stagnant real estate prices over the foreclosure glut, a string of awful natural disasters, an uncontrollable Congress and a detached president who most Americans want to like but whose public priorities (healthcare over jobs, windmills over jobs, foreign travel over Oval Office work) and private priorities (golf, family travel, parties) often make him seem more like an out-of-touch arrogant ruler than a humble public servant.

Makes you think maybe that elitist 2007 Iowa farm forum slip by Obama revealed more than realized at the time: "Anybody gone into Whole Foods lately and see what they charge for arugula?”

Obama doesn't intend to do anything about the rising gas prices; that could ease the pressures to adopt his clean energy agenda. And, in fact, he has....

...imposed moratoriums that stalled much domestic oil drilling, the president needs to show he's connected to real people, what with his last campaign already four days old and his last election in just 579 days.

As the clock ticked down to tomorrow and the next in a lengthening series of deadlines for another interim federal budget that should have been finished last September, the president has been out in his 17-car motorcades and his 747 jumbojet talking about clean energy and not talking about his amazing carbon footprint.

The last time he did this was yesterday.

The next time he'll do this is tomorrow.

As usual, we published the full text of the president's remarks near Philadelphia Wednesday. You can read them right here.Obama talks of clean energy in Philadelphia 4-6-11

But since we suspect not everyone has the clean or dirty energy to read the 8,000-or-so words he laid on those poor, polite factory workers, we've combed the speech for some major points:

Obama has noticed a familiar game in Washington where elected representatives howl when gas prices go up and then forget about it when they go back down. Much like the people they allegedly represent.

So he's determined to change it. He's called for cutting foreign oil imports by one-third by 2018 when he won't be around politically and no one will remember this call.

Also, the president doesn't want China to win the race few knew we were in to become the world's windmill superpower.

Obama has also called for doubling the amount of energy produced by clean sources. That means he wants 80% of all electricity produced from wind and solar by 2035. A windmill on every car. (Also gas, clean coal and non-tsunamied nuclear power).

By the year 2035, the U.S. should be almost out of Afghanistan. Obama will be 74, only a few years short of new Social Security eligibility rules no doubt in place by then. And he won't remember last week's golf score, let alone this promise.

So how exactly, besides reelecting an ex-state senator as POTUS, does the United States achieve this energy Valhalla?

What we do is we set a target, an achievable goal, and then we give industry the flexibility to achieve it. We say to the utilities, you’ve got to get this much energy from renewable sources, and then wind is competing with solar is competing with natural gas. And there’s a healthy competition out there, and everybody starts getting better at what they do because you’re producing more and you know you’ve got a reliable customer for it.

No word on the exact identity of who this all-powerful "we" will be, setting goals and allocating responsibilities to energy providers and overseeing the competitions. But after 807 days of this expansive Obama administration, many might guess the authority would hButton Obama Winning the Futureave something to do with an enlarged federal government, preferably one run by his Democrats.

In his energy speeches the president also bemoans the lack of a federal budget -- not one planned to start Oct. 1, 2011. But one that should have started last Oct. 1.

Obama didn't have time in his 61 minutes of talking to note that it was the vast congressional majorities of his own Democratic Party that didn't make time to craft a federal budget last year.

Those majorities were considerably reduced by popular demand on Nov. 2, requiring messy negotiations now with a Republican-controlled House that thinks its concerns for cutting federal spending should take priority over Democrats' plans to spend more on infrastructure and research and education reform, among other items to win the future.

As if surprised, the president said: "So we’ve agreed to a compromise, but somehow we still don’t have a deal, because some folks are trying to inject politics in what should be a simple debate about how to pay our bills."

Even if those simple federal household bills now exceed $14 trillion.

-- Andrew Malcolm

Click here to follow The Ticket via Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or click this: @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here. We're also available on Kindle. Use the ReTweet buttons above to share any item with family and friends.

Photos: Mandel Ngan / AFP / Getty Images (Obama off on another Air Force One trip and speaking on clean energy in Philadelphia, April 6); Andrew Malcolm.