Work and Days

Our Many Messiahs

The Energy Wake-up

The more we size up the current energy crisis, the more it seems like we are waking up from a long coma. Yet it turns out that even in our decline we still pump 8 or so million of our 20 million plus imported barrel daily appetite. We have some of the world’s largest deposits of coal, tar sands, and shale. We could get another 5 million barrels per-day off our coasts, off the continental shelf, and in ANWR. And we still are the world’s largest nuclear producer, and could produce 50% of our energy with such clean power plants. Wind and solar will help, especially as in the Pickens’ plan to divert natural gas and/or propane to transportation. Our engineers are the best in crafting enhanced conservation in our homes and cars, and the country is mobilizing to stop the annual trillion dollar wound.

The point? That for all Al Gore’s notion that we will soon be plugging our battery-powered caterpillars and semis into wind-generated electrical sockets at night, the future is still not, well, that bleak. I think if we use ALL our resources, and don’t fall into Gorish fundamentalism, we could cut 14 million barrels of daily imported oil within 15 years through conservation, flex-fuels, natural-gas and electric cars, oil, coal, tar sands, shale, nuclear, wind, solar, and geothermal. Like Obama, though, with Gore it’s a certain pie-in-the-sky liberal fundamentalism from the 1960s: you are either for the apocalyptic vision of current greed and the need for massive government planning, or you are a hopeless naïf.

The Demonization of Oil

I have written for some five years critically of our dependence on oil from the Middle East in general, and particularly the huge cost of buying it from odious regimes. That said, oil per se, like it or not, was the linchpin of the huge creation in American wealth the last fifty years. Oil won WWII (had we not had it, we would have lost). Oil gave us comfortable homes and easy transportation. Oil was relatively clean-burning, easily refined, and a high-powered energy. The recent notion that it somehow heated up the planet and ruined the environment and is thus toxic can only be made by those such as Gore who continue to rationalize their own serial reliance on private, oil-derivative fired jets, and huge waiting SUVs at the tarmac.

The Iraqification of Obama

Irony: Obama opposes the surge, insists its various manifestations were irrelevant to the cessation of most violence in Iraq, and is now, as senior statement in Iraq, safely traveling due to changed conditions, and promoting its benefits—even as the Maliki government (18 months ago on the ropes and desperate for a stubborn George Bush to rescue his country when his own Shiite-dominated security forces could not) compliments Obama on their shared strategy. I wrote a lot of columns predicting, and spoke to a few Democrats in Congress suggesting, that one day wise Democrats would reinvent themselves as saviors of Iraq along the following lines: our principled criticism of “their” war led to necessary changes, which, due to “our” constant vigilance, forced “them” to get out at a pace “we” always advocated.

The Obama enigma

Listening to a rare extemporaneous moment of his, I was struck not that Obama is hesitant, ill-informed, and unsure, but that he sounds exactly like one who had little national experience and drew largely from the echo-chamber of Harvard, Chicago, and Trinity for his world view—no better, no worse.

But one enigma. When one reads about hostile populations in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, the West Bank, and Venezuela all rooting for Obama, it seems to be predicated on the notion that, given their impression of his background and career thus far, he will radically alter the course of American foreign policy and at home turn us toward the world’s accepted model of European socialism. Thus the 64K question arises if he is elected: will our belligerents cease their animus, given that we are devolving to their worldview, or is their hatred such that they will sense weakness and try to exploit even Obama’s rehabilitated America. (That’s a rhetorical question, since the answer I think is clearly the latter.)

Obama in Ambar [from the NRO Corner this morning]

The more a coy Obama speaks to enthusiastic crowds and gives soundbites and photo-ops to slavish reporters, the more everyone wants more of a piece of him, especially in interviews and press conferences.

But the more he dispenses his impromptu wisdom, the more he sounds like, well, a rookie senator whose collective experience derives from the utopianism of the Harvard Law Review, the gravy-train of Chicago entitlement politics, and the world view of Trinity Church.

Yet, the more his handlers treat him like fossilized amber, the less experience he gains, guaranteeing that on almost every rare ex tempore moment he will suggest something that doesn’t compute—that he might be president for 10 years, or that we need a civilian version of the Pentagon with the same $500 billion annual budget, or that someone like a Centcom commander like Petraeus doesn’t have his strategic comprehensive view, or that the Anbar awakening and the Surge were not, at least in part, connected (as if the signal that we were not pulling out, [as Obama advocated] or that we were changing tactics to ensure the safety of those in the neighborhoods who would help us, did not reassure tired Sunnis to join with us in expelling al Qaeda.)

For someone who has made the case that Bush in general is responsible for everything from the mortgage to energy crises, it’s jarring to hear such particularism and contextualization about the Surge’s irrelevance.