Psaki: These rising gas prices are vindicating our position on clean energy

“The fact that your life is getting harder and more expensive on our watch proves that we’re right” is a weird flex for the governing party. But Obama’s defenders made this argument too when gas prices began rising during his presidency. Anyone to the right of Jen Psaki is destined to wonder: Does the White House want gas prices to rise in hopes that it’ll drive the public towards green alternatives?

Would Carter-style gas lines be a good thing? A little pain — or a lot — now might boost demand long-term for vehicles that run on renewable energy sources.

I remember Rahm Emanuel, then Obama’s chief of staff, saying during the financial crisis that one should never let a crisis go to waste. That was a big deal in fostering suspicion among conservatives that a party that wants to remake America in momentous ways welcomes crisis to some extent. And it was a short step from there to believing that a party that welcomes crisis might quietly be willing to engineer it, which is how the phrase “Cloward-Piven” went mainstream in political media.

Although, realistically, if you were going to encourage a policy crisis aimed at achieving your long-term goals, gas prices would be the last thing you’d choose. Americans feel that in their wallets every day. Discontent over energy costs is a neon sign flashing “ELECT THE OTHER PARTY.”

Even so, Gabe Malor’s point here reminds of something I hear from family often:

My relatives can’t understand why Biden would oppose pipelines in the U.S. like Keystone while standing aside as Russia completes its Nord Stream 2 pipeline to Germany. That too feeds the sense that the Democratic administration views higher gas prices domestically as a desirable thing in certain ways. When gas is cheap here at home that logic doesn’t have much salience, but when it isn’t, uh oh.

If I were Psaki, I’d wait until after gas prices had come down to start formulating lessons from the crisis for the public. Doing it while Americans are feeling the pinch smells of “the worse, the better” logic. The message now should be “We’re doing everything we can to hold down the cost of gas.” Full stop.

Uh, are they doing everything they can to hold down the cost of gas? She’ll get back to you:

Who’s to blame for the rising cost of gas? Systemic inflation is a factor, of course. Wall Street is also being dinged as oil companies have held off on expanding production in order to keep costs low and keep shareholders happy. And then there’s OPEC, which Psaki mentions repeatedly in the clip. Yesterday the Intercept claimed that Mohammed bin Salman’s personal grudge against Biden is behind OPEC’s refusal to increase the flow of oil. When the president requested that OPEC boost production in August, MBS said nope:

This time MBS refused, angry at having yet to be granted an audience with Biden and contemptuous of the U.S. pullback from the war in Yemen. As one of his first pieces of business, Biden had ordered the end of American support for Saudi Arabia and the UAE’s war, though caveated it by barring only the backing of “offensive operations.” Saudi Arabia nevertheless received it as a grievous blow…

“The United States, through our own policies, has essentially empowered MBS to impose economic sanctions on us,” a senior Senate aide, who was not authorized to speak on the record, told The Intercept.

MBS’s refusal to bail Biden out by opening the spigot is calculated, said Jon Hoffman, a Middle East analyst who recently penned a critical article on the UAE and Mohammed bin Zayed, the crown prince of UAE capital Abu Dhabi and the country’s de facto ruler, in Foreign Policy. “They definitely know what they’re doing, and those who play innocent and act like this is not a coordinated strategy are either just ignorant or in the pockets of MBS or MBZ,” Hoffman said.

Jim Geraghty notes that Biden’s posture towards Saudi Arabia as president has been strikingly mild relative to the tough talk he engaged in as a candidate — but not mild enough to suit the Saudis, it seems. Does MBS intend to keep up the squeeze into next year and screw Biden in the expectation that high prices will help Republicans in the midterms? That would be “the worse, the better” from the other partisan direction.

I’ll leave you with this. The media is liberal but there are some problems that affect Americans so immediately that they can’t be ignored.

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