Thursday, September 14, 2006

Bush On GOP Election Prospects: No Osama Capture, Gas Prices Down

Fred Barnes of the neoconservative Daily Standard reported yesterday on his recent long chat with Bush in a piece subtitled President Bush gives journalists a "heads up" about the mid-term elections, among other things.

The war on terror? Well, capturing Osama is no longer a priority, it seems. But trashing liberty at home is.
"It's really important at this stage . . . to be thinking about how to institutionalize courses of action that will enable future presidents to gain the information necessary to prevent attack," he said. This, presumably, would include the use of secret prisons, tough but legal interrogation techniques, a ban on lawsuits against interrogators, electronic eavesdropping, and monitoring of bank transfers, among other measures.
Future presidents, I assume, include Democrat ones. Bush obviously thinks they would be happy to have his plethora of signing statements and Article II powergrabs as a precedent. I agree with him on that.

What else? Well Bush says the GOP will be running, in part, on econimi strength.
In the midterm election on November 7, Bush predicted Democrats won't win either the House or the Senate. "I believe these elections will come down to two things: one, firm belief that in order to win the war on terror there must be a comprehensive strategy that recognizes this war is being fought on more than one front, and, two, the economy." Bush said the price of gasoline, which has been falling rapidly, is one of the "interesting indicators" that the press should watch carefully. "Just giving you a heads up," he added.
Then today, via Richard Gardner at Outside The Beltway, I read that oil industry insiders are predicting a massive tumble in the price of gasoline:
Should oil traders fear that this downward price spiral will get worse and run for the exits by selling off their futures contracts, Verleger said, it’s not unthinkable that oil prices could return to $15 or less a barrel, at least temporarily. That could mean gasoline prices as low as $1.15 per gallon. Other experts won’t guess at a floor price, but they agree that a race to the bottom could break out.
Richard ends his post by saying:

"I’m waiting for the cries that this is all some Rovian/Bush conspiracy just before the elections."

Make of it what you will.

Update More from Anything They Say:
Previously, the relationship between Bush's approval rating and the price of gasoline has been noted. Many have speculated as to whether oil companies have been tweaking the price of oil just before the election thereby currying favour for the Bush and the GOP. This is not quite correct. While oil companies can dump oil futures, world market prices are really set on a much larger stage, like war in the Middle East. However, oil companies do have very tight control in the pricing of gasoline in the US, which is much more affecting of the average American consumer. They also know that, as good and loyal companions of the Republicans both in the White House and Congress, the price of gas is the ticket they know they really can punch to assuage American concerns about the "direction of the country." And Americans appear to be easily bought.

...The price of domestic gas is only marginally related to the price of oil, with oil companies generally recognizing that the price of gas in the US simply could not track the price of oil on world markets. For example, while the price of a barrel of oil has more than tripled since 2002, the price of gasoline currently sits at less the double -- and dropping -- what it was in 2002 (after the wild spike that followed Katrina). Clearly there is mitigation of gas pricing by oil companies in the US. And they can do this because company profits are mostly realised by the price of oil on world markets, not the price of gasoline in the US, which is only one of many byproducts, albeit the biggest one. It costs no more now to get the oil out of the ground than it did mere months ago, but the market price of oil has soared and this is where the massive profits are realised.
And Ken has the graph to prove that gas pries and Bush's popularity go hand-in-hand.

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