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April 4, 2012

Four is the loneliest number

Kevin E. Dayhoff

After former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s likely primary victories in Tuesday’s contests in Maryland, Washington, DC, and Wisconsin, look for establishment Republicans to start looking for a running mate and the establishment media to focus its attention on getting President Barack Obama re-elected.


And there will be no better place for the liberal media to start than at the gas pumps, where it rallied so many to vote for President Obama in 2008 when the price of gas last approached $4 a gallon.


You remember the number four? It was a very popular number with the media in 2008. That was when the major media led a steady drumbeat of foreboding news, with a full chorus of doom and gloom over the price of gas.


Oh, what a difference four years can make.


Of course, economists will forever argue over exactly what caused the country to slip into a recession in the 2007-2008 time-period. For many who have no interest in academic arguments over which came first, the chicken or the egg, the escalating cost of gas certainly provided that extra measure of yeast to give rise to an economic downturn. The main causes of which certainly are found at the feet of the subprime mortgage financial mess on Wall Street and in the banking industry – and the collapse of the whole housing bubble.


And let’s not overlook President George W. Bush’s spending problems, which certainly did nothing to calm the capital markets.


Yet, as many exclaimed somewhat breathlessly back in 2008, there is little a sitting president can really do about the cost of gasoline as a result of the vagaries of the market.


Certainly a national energy policy that involved an emphasis on domestic and Canadian supplies and increased refining capacity, instead of relying upon political rhetoric and pixie dust, would give the market more stability; but, in the end, it would not lower the cost of gas that dramatically.


That said, please understand that President Obama’s dysfunctionate national energy policy is a critical 2012 presidential election issue in a wide-ranging national conversation over the role of coal, natural gas and oil exploration and production as an asymmetrical coefficient of job creation, the economy, and national security.


But, $4 gas is no more President Obama’s fault in 2012 than it was President Bush’s fault in 2008.


Nevertheless, back in 2008, the major media fueled outrage with nearly three-times more reports on how $4 gas will mean the end of the world as we knew it – and it was all the fault of President Bush, that evil, capitalist Texan with the oil-stained hands.


Thanks go out to Julia A. Seymour’s drilling into the heart of the matter. Writing for the Media Research Council Business and Media Institute, (BMI,) on Monday, she noted: “CNBC’s Jim Cramer pointed out on the March 7 ‘Today’ show that ‘we have never seen above $4 [gas] not hurt the recovery … There’s no way it won’t.’ Yet, there has been significantly less coverage of the prospect of $4-a-gallon now, than there was in 2008…”


Ms. Seymour further reveals that when the network news stories discussed $4 gas in “144 day period of rising prices leading up to such highs in 2008 and 2011/2012 (Jan. 1, 2008-May 23, 2008, and Nov. 6, 2011-March 28, 2012). BMI found there were nearly 3 times as many stories about $4 gas in 2008 than in 2012 (85 to 31).”


The sub-head for Ms. Seymour’s research article stated what many have already observed. That is according to the major networks, the “high cost of gasoline was causing plenty of pain just a few years ago, today not as much…


“The national average for gasoline is perilously close to crossing the $4-a-gallon marker once again. On March 28, the average rose to $3.91 for a gallon of regular gas according to AAA’s fuel gauge report. As of April 2, the average was up another penny to $3.92.


“Four dollars isn’t just a big round number. It carries with it tremendous potential to harm the economy. But even when the price is the same, the news media haven’t reported the story in the same way.”


Examples abound, although I noticed, as well as Scott Whitlock writing for NewsBusters, “paid Democrat hit manGood Morning America's George Stephanopoulos, wax philosophically on February 21, about “skyrocketing gas prices sympathetically wondering: ‘What, if anything can the White House do about’ them…


“Stephanopoulos focused on Republican congressional response to gas prices, warning that the GOP is ‘talking about these high gas prices over this February break. This is something they think they can exploit.’


“On April 25, 2011, the former Democratic operative turned journalist worried about the nation's ‘gas gripes.’ On that day, he focused on how this impacted Barack Obama: ‘Soaring prices lead to new pain for the president as big oil gets ready to report record profits.’ ”


Oh, as for the vice presidential pick, I still see “Florida Sen. Marco Rubio as one of the most likely GOP vice presidential picks,” and tend to view him as perhaps the best choice, in spite of the reservations expressed by conservative commentator Ann Coulter.


However, I must admit that I had Sunday morning coffee steaming through my nose when I watched “Van Jones, a former environmental advisor in the Obama White House, on ABC’s “This Week with Mr. Stephanopoulos.


Mr. Jones, a socialist and best-selling New York Times author, “threw a brand new name into the realm of vice presidential speculation: former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who served under George W. Bush…


“You want to do something bold, put Condoleezza Rice on the ticket and watch the Obama campaign go crazy.”


There will be more time for discussing Governor Romney’s running mate later. For right now, our hearts go out to the number four, the loneliest number you will ever know.


. . . . . I’m just saying. . . . .


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