Sunday, April 23, 2006

1999: Bush on High Gas Prices

"The President must 'jawbone' OPEC to lower prices"...

2006: Bush on High Gas Prices - "Go away, I wanna ride my bike!"

I love it when their words come back to bite them in the ass. Like these (from the 2000 campaign), where Bush criticized Al Gore for being part of "the administration that's been in charge" while the "price of gasoline has gone steadily upward" - they leave me positively dizzy:

Gov. George W. Bush of Texas said today that if he was president, he would bring down gasoline prices through sheer force of personality, by creating enough political good will with oil-producing nations that they would increase their supply of crude.
"I would work with our friends in OPEC to convince them to open up the spigot, to increase the supply," Mr. Bush, the presumptive Republican candidate for president, told reporters here today.

"Use the capital that my administration will earn, with the Kuwaitis or the Saudis, and convince them to open up the spigot."
Implicit in his comments was a criticism of the Clinton administration as failing to take advantage of the good will that the United States built with Kuwait and Saudi Arabia during the Persian Gulf war in 1991. Also implicit was that as the son of the president who built the coalition that drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait, Mr. Bush would be able to establish ties on a personal level that would persuade oil-producing nations that they owed the United States something in return.
"Ours is a nation that helped Kuwait and the Saudis, and you'd think we'd have the capital necessary to convince them to increase the crude supplies," he said.

Asked why the Clinton administration had not been able to use the power of personal persuasion, Mr. Bush said: "The fundamental question is, 'Will I be a successful president when it comes to foreign policy?'"

He went on to suggest, as he did in answer to other questions, that voters should simply trust him.

"I will be," he said in answer to his own question about whether he would be a successful president. "But until I'm the president, it's going to be hard for me to verify that I think I'll be more effective."

Four years later (two years ago):
As gas topped a record level of $50 a barrel this week, Mr. Bush has shown no propensity to personally pressure, or “jawbone,” Mideast oil producers to increase output.

A spokesman for the president reportedly said in March that Mr. Bush will not personally lobby oil cartel leaders to change their minds.

And then this past week:
Crude-oil prices broke through $75 a barrel Friday amid concerns about the standoff over Iran's nuclear ambitions, rebel disruptions of oil production in Nigeria, and tight U.S. gasoline supplies. Analysts say they are likely to climb even higher.

Prices at the gas pump also kept rising and were not considered at their peak, with the average price of a gallon of unleaded regular gasoline at $2.855. That's 3 cents higher than a day earlier and more than 60 cents higher than a year ago, according to AAA's daily fuel gauge report.

As oil prices hit a record, drivers worried about $3-a-gallon gas and politicians feared the impact on elections, President Bush on Friday acknowledged the pain but seemed resigned to being able to do little about it.

"I know the folks here are suffering at the gas pump," the president said while promoting his competitiveness initiative at the Silicon Valley headquarters of Internet networking company Cisco Systems Inc. "Rising gasoline prices is like taking a -- is like a tax, particularly on the working people and the small-business people."

But to address the immediate problem, Bush offered only a pledge that "if we find any price gouging it will be dealt with firmly."

In Bush-speak, that's code for "a firm handshake.

"Now watch me ride my bike!"

Before returning to Washington Monday night, Bush was making stops to raise money for the national Republican Party, visit with Marines and Navy sailors, and press Congress to break a logjam over the immigration legislation he wants.

One reason for a weekend trip with a lot of downtime in beautiful places became clear even before Bush boarded Air Force One to leave Washington. Crew were seen loading two shiny mountain bikes -- one a red-white-and-blue Trek adorned with the presidential seal and "United States of America." With stays scheduled in picturesque Napa Valley and the Palm Springs area, the bikes weren't likely to remain clean for long.

"Tomorrow I'm going to be riding my bike in Napa Valley. I can't wait," Bush told his Cisco audience.

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