Nov 13th 2013

When the Blame Game Goes Bad

by Jeff Schweitzer

Jeff Schweitzer is a scientist and former White House Senior Policy Analyst; Ph.D. in marine biology/neurophysiology

The root of all superstition is that men observe when a thing hits, but not when it misses. 
Sir Francis Bacon

In modern times, Francis Bacon would say that "the root of all GOP hatred and vitriol is that conservatives observe when a thing hits, or simply when they claim a thing hits, but not when it misses."

In the rather twisted mind of a modern conservative, President Obama is to blame for all our ills, but he gains no credit for all that goes well. This is no exaggeration; it is quite literally true.

One glaring case in point is the price of gasoline. Surely, you remember that when pump prices were skyrocketing, the GOP immediately and vocally blamed Obama, not only for pursuing a bad energy policy but for actively seeking higher prices. Here are just a few examples:

Mitt Romney: Obama to Blame for High Gas Prices

Romney said on Fox News (where else?) that he believes "absolutely" that Obama is responsible for high gas prices. To bolster his point, Romney noted that Obama does not allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR), and his refusal to build the Keystone pipeline from Canada to Texas. Romney said of Obama, "His policies are responsible for not having America using the energy that we have in this country."

Paul Ryan: Obama Gone to Great Lengths to Keep Gas Prices High

Romney's vice presidential candidate said that... "what's frustrating about the Obama administration's policies are they've gone to great lengths to make oil and gas more expensive." He does on to say, "Let's not forget the fact that the regulations coming out of the EPA are making it harder for us to harness home grown American energy."

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH)

"The president holds the key to addressing the pain Ohioans are feeling at the gas pump and moving our nation away from its reliance on foreign energy. My question for the president is: what are you waiting for?" Getting more specific, Boehner claimed that, "The president's own policies to date have made matters worse and driven up gas prices."

Senator John Barrasso: Obama Fully Responsible for High Gas Prices

Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) claimed "The president has been a complete obstructionist on that, and his energy policy, if you want to even call it a policy, has in my opinion actually contributed if not caused the pain at the pump, and he should be held fully responsible for what the American public is paying for gasoline."

Representative Cory Gardner (R-CO): Obama Policies to Blame for High Gas Prices

Cory Gardner jumped on the bandwagon, complaining that, "The longer we let politicians like President Obama continue to block responsible American energy production, the longer our nation will continue to suffer with high gas prices and limited energy security."

National Review: Report Finds Obama Policies to Blame for High Energy Prices

"What President Obama failed to accomplish through the so-called 'cap and trade' program, his administration is attempting to accomplish through regulatory roadblocks, energy tax increases, and other targeted efforts to prohibit development of domestic energy resources."

Rush Limbaugh: Obama Wants Higher Gas Prices

Oddly, in his rant against Obama, Rush asks, "Will the media ignoring the rise in gas prices be able to keep that from becoming a major factor in people's minds over the economy and Obama's role in it?" Funny given the torrent of news coverage on higher gas prices, and the GOP's consistent drum beat blaming Obama.

High Gas Prices are President Obama's Fault

In this article, the author claims that "The Obama administration's energy plan all along was based upon the rise in energy costs in order to force Americans to be 'greener.'" The piece goes on to say that "President Obama wants Americans to believe that he is powerless to stop the high rise of gasoline prices yet it is his (in)actions that have created the crisis... What the president fails to realize is that there is no one to blame for rising energy costs other than himself."

Billboard Blames Obama for High Gas Prices

In this case, a conservative businessman by the name of Bret Eulberg posted for all to see the message: "Gas $1.85. Obama took office. Tight drilling regulations. No Pipeline. Obama- Higher Gas.

This message is actually a mirror of that proposed by Eric Hovde, who was then a candidate vying for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate, who also added that Obama was to blame because his policies let to a devaluation of the dollar.

Need I go on? Can any reader, of any political persuasion, even those who only watch Fox News, claim that the GOP did not openly, blatantly, consistently blame Obama for high gas prices? Conservatives blamed Obama for high gas prices. Can we be any clearer about that?

So what happened when the price of gas fell? Silence. Total, complete, deafening, maddening, huge, gaping, mind-bending silence. Where was Obama's commitment to making prices higher? Where were the impacts of Obama's failed energy policies? Where were the disastrous consequences of delaying the Keystone pipeline? Where were the catastrophic energy shortages due to overzealous EPA regulations? Yet not a single word from the right praising Obama for lower energy prices. He was responsible for them going up, but not coming down.

What happened when Obama cracked down on oil speculation (an activity much supported by free-market zealots in the GOP), driving down the price of gas by 12 cents at the pump? Not a peep from the right. What happened when gas prices fell to a two-year low, with expectations that the price will continue to decline? Nothing on Fox News about that.

Everything that the GOP claimed caused high gas prices are still in place, as we watch prices decline. There is no Keystone pipeline, drilling levels are virtually the same as when prices were increasing, and EPA regulations are still in place. Those "causes" of high prices are now simply ignored by the right in the face of declining prices at the pump, no longer offered as proof of Obama's incompetence.

And then the Republicans finally broke their silence, with the claim that "Obama deserves no credit for fall in gas prices." Read this logic and weep for our country: Representative Allen West (R-FL) said, "If you're the chief executive officer of the United States of America, you should take responsibility for anything that's occurring in this country, and you should not want to seek to get praise. This is what the military taught me: Leaders don't take credit, leaders take responsibility." Um, OK. So, you blame Obama for rising gas prices; but then give him no credit for falling prices because it is unseemly for a leader to accept credit for effective policies - the very policies you were blaming for failure earlier. My head hurts. My heart aches for this great land.

We can do the same analysis for past GOP claims about unemployment, the war in Iraq, saving the auto industry, bailing out Wall Street and the banks... just about anything that happened over the past 6 or 7 years: Everything bad is Obama's fault; everything good is in spite of Obama. This outlook has as much credibility as the claim about gas prices. The GOP has lost all remaining credibility by blaming Obama for all our ills and giving him no credit for any successes. This is a childish, bogus outlook, yet remains central to everything conservative. This lopsided, one-sided, one-dimensional world view is the clearest sign yet that the GOP and the conservative movement are morally and intellectually bankrupt. This lack of depth and nuance, and the absence of the art of compromise (actually praising Obama for something), is precisely what led to the extremism of shutting down our government and threatening default on our debt. Hating Obama is not an effective political organizing strategy. Hoping for failure is not a political platform.

I hope I live long enough to see the day when once again we reject the bizarre extremism of the far right and realize the fruits of effective governance through dialogue and compromise. We will know we are on our way when we can give our political opponents credit where credit is due- and that includes praise for policies we earlier opposed when those policies prove well founded. Extremism and absolutism have no place in America; we can only hope that what we are witnessing today is an aberration much like McCarthyism. Perhaps in 20 or 30 years we'll shake our heads at this folly and wonder how the likes of Ted Cruz and Sarah Palin ever made it to national politics. We can always hope.




 


This article is brought to you by the author who owns the copyright to the text.

Should you want to support the author’s creative work you can use the PayPal “Donate” button below.

Your donation is a transaction between you and the author. The proceeds go directly to the author’s PayPal account in full less PayPal’s commission.

Facts & Arts neither receives information about you, nor of your donation, nor does Facts & Arts receive a commission.

Facts & Arts does not pay the author, nor takes paid by the author, for the posting of the author's material on Facts & Arts. Facts & Arts finances its operations by selling advertising space.

 

 

Browse articles by author

More Current Affairs

Jan 26th 2020
EXTRACT: "Gibson’s diagnosis is supported by international attitude surveys. One found that most Americans rarely think about the future and only a few think about the distant future. When they are forced to think about it, they don’t like what they see. Another poll by the Pew Research Centre found that 44% of Americans were pessimistic about what lies ahead. But pessimism about the future isn’t just limited to the US. One international poll of over 400,000 people from 26 countries found that people in developed countries tended to think that the lives of today’s children will be worse than their own. And a 2015 international survey by YouGov found that people in developed countries were particularly pessimistic. For instance, only 4% of people in Britain thought things were improving. This contrasted with 41% of Chinese people who thought things were getting better."
Jan 24th 2020
EXTRACT: "........while over 80% of the ECB scheme buys government and other public sector bonds, a huge chunk still goes into corporate bonds and other assets. At the time of writing, the ECB holds €263 billion worth of corporate bonds – a very significant amount in relation to individual firms and the sectors in question. According to the ECB, 29% of these bonds were issued by French firms, 25% by German firms and 11% each by Spanish and Italian firms. As at September 2017, the sectors they came from included utilities (16%), infrastructure (12%), automotive (10%) and energy (7%)."
Jan 17th 2020
EXTRACT: "Thanks to cutting-edge digital technology, cars are increasingly like “smartphones on wheels”, so manufacturers need to have access to the latest patented 4G and 5G technologies essential to navigation and communications. But often the companies that hold the patents are reluctant to license them because manufacturers will not accept the high fees involved, which leads to patent disputes and licensing rows."
Jan 13th 2020
EXTRACT: "Recent polling from Pew Research demonstrates how the public’s attitudes toward the US and President Trump have witnessed sharp declines in many nations across the world. In Europe, the Americas, and the Middle East favorable attitudes toward the US went from lows during the years of George W. Bush’s presidency to highs in the early Obama years to lows, once again, in the Trump era. And in our Zogby Research Services (ZRS) polling we found, with a few exceptions, much the same trajectory across the Middle East."
Jan 13th 2020
EXTRACT: "In the absence of a declaration of war against Iran, the killing of a foreign official – by a drone strike on Iraqi territory – was possibly illegal. But such niceties do not perturb Trump. The evidence is that Trump’s decision was taken without consideration of the possible consequences. The national security system established under Dwight D. Eisenhower, designed to prevent such reckless measures, is broken to non-existent, with ever-greater power placed in the hands of the president. If that president is unstable, the entire world has a very serious problem."
Jan 9th 2020
EXTRACT: "It is possible that Trump’s reverential base won’t be sufficient to keep him in the White House past 2020. But such ardent faith is hard to oppose with rational plans to fix this or that problem. That is why it is so unsettling to hear people at the top of the US government speak about politics in terms that rightly belong in church. They are challenging the founding principles of the American Republic, and they might actually win as a result."
Jan 7th 2020
EXTRACT: "If anything has become clear in our recent Zogby Research Services (ZRS) polling in Iraq, is that most Iraqis are tired of their country being used as a playground for regional conflict, especially the conflict between the US and Iran. In fact, our polling has shown Iraqis increasingly upset with the role played by both the US and Iran in their country. Majorities see both of these countries as having been the major beneficiaries of the wars that have ravaged their nation since the US invaded in 2003. "
Jan 5th 2020
EXTRACT: "Under his [Suleimani's] leadership, Iran helped Hezbollah beef up its missile capabilities, led a decisive intervention to prop up Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, supported the Houthi rebels who have been waging a war against Saudi-led forces in Yemen, and backed a wave of resurgent Shia militias in Iraq. According to Gadi Eizenkot, who completed his term as the Israel Defense Forces’ chief of general staff last year, Suleimani had plans to amass a proxy force of 100,000 fighters along Syria’s border with Israel."
Dec 31st 2019
EXTRACT: ".....stunning technological progress during the 2010s makes it possible to cut GHG emissions at a cost far lower than we dared hope a decade ago. The costs of solar and wind power have fallen more than 80% and 70%, respectively, while lithium-ion battery costs are down from $1,000 per kilowatt-hour in 2010 to $160 per kWh today. These and other breakthroughs guarantee that energy systems which are as much as 85% dependent on variable renewables could produce zero-carbon electricity at costs that are fully competitive with those of fossil-fuel-based systems."
Dec 31st 2019
EXTRACT: "Predicting the next crisis – financial or economic – is a fool’s game. Yes, every crisis has its hero who correctly warned of what was about to come. And, by definition, the hero was ignored (hence the crisis). But the record of modern forecasting contains a note of caution: those who correctly predict a crisis rarely get it right again. The best that economists can do is to assess vulnerability. Looking at imbalances in the real economy or financial markets gives a sense of the potential consequences of a major shock. It doesn't take much to spark corrections in vulnerable economies and markets. But a garden-variety correction is far different from a crisis. The severity of the shock and the degree of vulnerability matter: big shocks to highly vulnerable systems are a recipe for crisis. In this vein, the source of vulnerability that I worry about the most is the overextended state of central-bank balance sheets. My concern stems from three reasons."
Dec 14th 2019
EXTRACT: "Conspiracy theories about sinister Jewish power have a long history. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a Russian forgery published in 1903, popularized the notion that Jewish bankers and financiers were secretly pulling the strings to dominate the world. Henry Ford was one of the more prominent people who believed this nonsense."
Dec 13th 2019
EXTRACT: "In previous British elections, to say that trust was the main issue would have meant simply that trust is the trump card – whichever leader or party could secure most trust would win. Now, the emerging question about trust is whether it even matters anymore."
Dec 5th 2019
EXTRACT: "Europe must fend for itself for the first time since the end of World War II. Yet after so many years of strategic dependence the US, Europe is unprepared – not just materially but psychologically – for today’s harsh geopolitical realities. Nowhere is this truer than in Germany."
Nov 23rd 2019
Extdact: "The kind of gratitude expressed by Vindman and my grandfather is not something that would naturally occur to a person who can take his or her nationality for granted, or whose nationality is beyond questioning by others. Some who have never felt the sharp end of discrimination might even find it mildly offensive. Why should anyone be grateful for belonging to a particular nation? Pride, perhaps, but gratitude? In fact, patriotism based on gratitude might be the strongest form there is."
Nov 20th 2019
Extract: "Moody’s, one of the big three credit rating agencies, is not upbeat about the prospects for the world’s debt in 2020 – to put it mildly. If we were to try to capture the agency’s view of where we are heading on a palette of colours, we would be pointing at black – pitch black."
Nov 17th 2019
Extract: "Digital money is already a key battleground in finance, with technology firms, payment processing companies, and banks all vying to become the gateway into the burgeoning platform-based economy. The prizes that await the winners could be huge. In China, Alipay and WeChat Pay already control more than 90% of all mobile payments. And in the last three years, the four largest listed payment firms – Visa, Mastercard, Amex, and PayPal – have increased in value by more than the FAANGs (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google)."
Nov 14th 2019
Extract: "Trump, who understands almost nothing about governing, made a major mistake in attacking career public officials from the outset of his presidency. He underestimated – or just couldn’t fathom – the honor of people who could earn more in the private sector but believe in public service. And he made matters worse for himself as well as for the government by creating a shadow group – headed by the strangely out-of-control Rudy Giuliani, once a much-admired mayor of New York City, and now a freelance troublemaker serving as Trump’s personal attorney – to impose the president’s Ukraine policy over that of “the bureaucrats.” "
Nov 4th 2019
Extract: "Trump displays repeated and persistent behaviours consistent with narcissistic personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder. These behaviours include craving for adulation, lack of empathy, aggression and vindictiveness towards opponents, addiction to lying, and blatant disregard for rules and conventions, among others." The concern is that leaders with these two disorders may be incapable of putting the interests of the country ahead of their own personal interests. Their compulsive lying may make rational action impossible and their impulsiveness may make them incapable of the forethought and planning necessary to lead the country. They lack empathy and are often motivated by rage and revenge, and could make quick decisions that could have profoundly dangerous consequences for democracy.
Oct 31st 2019
EXTRACT: "......let’s see what happens when we have less money for all the things we want to do as a country and as individuals. Promises and predictions regarding Brexit will soon be tested against reality. When they are, I wouldn’t want to be one of Johnson’s Brexiteers."
Oct 21st 2019
EXTRACT: "Were Israel to be attacked with the same precision and sophistication as the strike on Saudi Arabia, the Middle East would be plunged into war on a scale beyond anything it has experienced so far. Sadly (but happily for Russian President Vladimir Putin), that is the reality of a world in which the US has abandoned any pretense of global leadership."