Via Jim Geraghty, who caught this even while on vacation.  In August 2005, Obama agreed with George Bush’s decision to release oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in order to buffer the economy from the effects of Hurricane Katrina.  However, Obama warned that such actions should only take place in times of real emergency (emphases mine):

I agree with the President’s decision to release oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to help replenish supply shortages resulting from Hurricane Katrina. Nearly all oil and natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico has been shut down, and releasing this oil will help increase production and stabilize prices. However, I do believe that this tragedy makes it very clear that that the reserve should only be used in the event of an emergency, and that we shouldn’t be tapping the reserve to provide a small, short-term decrease in gas prices.

And again last month, in St. Louis on July 7th:

I do not believe that we should use the strategic oil reserves at this point. I have said and, in fact, supported a congressional resolution that said that we should suspend putting more oil into the strategic oil reserve, but the strategic oil reserve, I think, has to be reserved for a genuine emergency. You have a situation, let’s say, where there was a major oil facility in Saudi Arabia that was destroyed as a consequence of terrorist acts, and you suddenly had huge amounts of oil taken out of the world market, we wouldn’t just be seeing $4-a-gallon oil. We could see a situation where entire sectors of the country had no oil to function at all. And that’s what the strategic oil reserve has to be for.

Today, we discovered what Barack Obama considers a genuine emergency — a drop in the polls:

Democrat Barack Obama called today for tapping the nation’s strategic oil reserves to help drive down gasoline prices, a shift from his previous position on the issue.

The reversal is the second refinement in Obama’s energy policy. Last week, he said that he would reluctantly consider accepting some offshore oil drilling. Obama had previously said he opposed such drilling, which is strongly backed by rival John McCain, who has urged that states be allowed to decide whether to drill.

Obama changed his position to protect Nancy Pelosi, who demanded a release from the SPR rather than allowing a debate and a vote on the House floor on increased domestic drilling.  However, a release from the SPR would only provide momentary relief and do nothing to resolve the underlying issue of higher gas prices — a supply shortage on the world markets.  Eventually, the US would have to refill the SPR, increasing demand which, without any increase in supply, would drive prices up even farther than they are now.

Obama used to have the intelligence to understand this.  Now he’s too desperate to care.