President Barack Obama’s struggled to defend his price-boosting energy policies during a speech in Cushing, Okla., today, even as rapidly spreading criticism and rising gas prices damage his poll ratings.
“He was incredibly defensive because little of what he says is true — that’s his dilemma,” said Dan Kish, a vice president at the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Energy Research.
Speaking off-the-cuff, Obama mistakenly said that “we only produce 2 percent of the world’s oil.”
According to the federal government’s energy administration, the United States produces 10 percent of the world’s production, making it the third-largest oil producing nation. (SEE ALSO: Poll finding 80 percent of Americans not better off ‘so meaningless,’ says Harry Reid [VIDEO])
“He doesn’t know what he’s talking about. … This is the most incompetent administration I’ve ever seen — and I started under [President] Jimmy Carter,” Kish said.
Obama’s error was likely a misstatement of his frequent claim that the nation posses only 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves.
And even that repeated contention was again denounced today by The Washington Post’s “Fact Checker” column, which declared that Obama’s claim “is just simply wrong.”
“New sources of oil kept getting found, more-difficult-to-obtain oil suddenly became more economically viable, new oil-extraction techniques gained favor. … We hope he finally drops this specious logic from his talking points,” said the columnist, who rated Obama’s claim misleading enough to deserve “two pinocchios” out of a possible “four pinocchios.”
“Nobody is buying it… [and] if he can’t even convince The Washington Post, you can see why he’s extremely defensive,” said Kish. (RELATED: Full coverage of the Obama presidency)
Obama’s error came just a week after he was widely derided for mistakenly claiming Pres. Rutherford B. Hayes opposed the telephone. He made that claim, and used it to disparage GOP opponents of his energy policy, during an energy speech in Maryland, where he also repeated the mistaken claim that the nation has only two percent of the world’s oil reserves.
During today’s Oklahoma speech, Obama defended his policies and blamed gasoline price increases on oil shortages caused by political turbulence in the Middle East.
But his critics argue that Obama’s policies have cut U.S. oil output, exacerbating shortages and boosting prices. “There never has been an administration that has done more against affordable energy as this one,” said Kish.
A Washington Post poll released Mar. 21 showed that 53 percent of independent voters believe the administration has reasonable options for reducing gas prices. That number likely understates the expectations among true swing voters, because the poll’s bloc of self-described independents likely includes many Democratic leaners who are far more indulgent of Obama’s policies than they were of President George Bush’s.
Today, Obama grudgingly announced a new policy to ease construction of oil pipelines, and endorsed oil drilling — last week, he called it the “energy of the past” — but also called for continued federal spending on alternative energy, including solar, wind power and biofuels.
“So, yes, we’re going to keep on drilling. … Yes, we’re going to make sure that we can get oil to where it’s needed [but] what we’re also going to be doing as part of an all-of-the-above strategy,” he said defensively.
Critics say those novel sources cost far more than gasoline, and that his steady opposition to the cross-border Keystone XL oil pipeline shows his opposition to fossil fuels.
Obama urged his supporters to rally to his defense.
“So if you guys are talking to your friends, your neighbors, your coworkers, your aunts or uncles and they’re wondering what’s going on in terms of oil production, you just tell them anybody who suggests that somehow we’re suppressing domestic oil production isn’t paying attention,” he said.
“What you also need to tell them is anybody who says that just drilling more gas and more oil by itself will bring down gas prices tomorrow or the next day or even next year, they’re also not paying attention,” he said.
Obama lamented media coverage of his energy policies, which he says have upped oil production in the United States. “You wouldn’t know all this from listening to the television set,” he said.
Obama’s address was the third of four energy speeches that he’s giving during a two-day, four-state tour that will culminate in the critical swing state of Ohio.
He’s also dedicated his last four weekend addresses and three other speeches — in New Hampshire, Florida and Maryland — to counter rising public dislike of his energy policies.
Since Obama’s inauguration in January 2009, the price of a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline has risen from an average of $1.79 to just over $3.88. Prices are even higher in California and in Midwestern swing states.