Republicans can be so stupid

As most people probably know, an need to be reminded, keeping your tires properly inflated is a great way to increase your fuel efficiency (I've lost my tire gauge– I'll buy another this week).  Obama, recently, quite correctly pointed out that keeping our tires inflated will be much more help than any gains from long-distant off-shore drilling.  Yet, somehow this is seen as some big gaffe by Republicans?!  Get real.  Steve Benen has details:

I?ve been trying to figure out the same thing for days. As the Obama
campaign kicks off ?energy week? with a new contrast ad and a policy
speech in Michigan, Time?s Mark Halperin reports,
?McCain supporters in Michigan will distribute tire gauges at Obama?s
energy speech in Lansing. The RNC will also deliver gauges reading
?Obama?s energy plan? to Washington newsrooms.?

As of this morning, it looks like far-right blogs have received their copies of the Republican script, too. Erick Erickson
is on message: ?Inflating your tires and getting a regular tune-up
sounds more like Obama?s plan for ego maintenance than it does for
helping American families.? Ed Morrissey
added, ??Obama refers to ?big oil? and the need to reduce our use of
oil by 35% over the next twenty years. How do we get there? Keep
inflating those tires, folks.?

We are, quite obviously, in the midst of a very aggressive roll-out here. John McCain criticized the notion of well-inflated tires on Friday, and Newt Gingrich described Obama?s remarks as ?loony toons? during a Fox News interview. Yesterday morning on ABC, McCain said, ?It seems to me the only thing [Obama] wants us to do is inflate tires? to improve gas mileage.

And over the weekend, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, still auditioning for the role of VP, took to using a tire gauge as a prop

There?s something deeply wrong with these people.

Let?s review. The other day, Barack Obama mentioned to voters in
Missouri that there are things individuals can do to help conserve
energy, including bringing their cars in for regular tune ups, and
keeping their tires properly inflated. It seemed like a rather
unremarkable thing to say.

But at this point, Republicans can?t seem to stop commenting on just how remarkable they think this is.

To reiterate a point
from yesterday, someone sent me a transcript yesterday of Obama?s
specific remarks in Missouri, and he apparently said the amount of
energy to be saved by routine auto maintenance is comparable to the
savings we?d get from the GOP?s coastal drilling policy. I have no idea
if that?s true ? it may very well not be ? and I?ll be happy to let
energy policy experts weigh in on whether Obama exaggerated the
significance of scheduled car care. If he did, Obama should obviously
drop this line from his speeches.

But oddly enough, that?s not what McCain and his surrogates are
complaining about. They?re insisting, over and over again, that tire
pressure is the entire Obama energy policy. Who, exactly, is supposed
to believe such transparent nonsense? 

Consider a counter-example. McCain was talking about skin cancer the other day.

McCain emphasized that skin cancer is preventable, and implored
Americans to wear sunscreen, especially over the summer. What?s wrong
with this advice? Not a thing. It?s a smart, sensible thing to say.

But imagine if Obama and his surrogates said the entirety of
McCain?s healthcare policy is sunscreen application. McCain doesn?t
really care about cancer, they could argue, he just wants everyone to
run out at get some SPF 30. Those vying to be Obama?s running mate
started holding up bottles of Coppertone during their speeches, saying
things like, ?We want you to wear sunscreen, you know, it will very
mildly improve your chances of not getting sick. But wearing sunscreen
is not a healthcare policy for the United States of America.?

This, of course, would be insane. And yet, that?s pretty much what?s become of Republican campaign rhetoric of late.

It is also worth noting that, not surprisngly, the Department of Energy, and even NASCAR, advocates proper tire inflation.  I would challenge my Republican readers (all 3 of them), to come up with something remotely as ridiculous on the part of the Obama campaign.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

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