Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Playing the Ignorance Card

Forget the over-hyped "race card," good old fashioned ignorance is the ace up the sleeve of the Grand Old Party.

At a speech last week, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama replied to a question about how ordinary people can save on gas. The Illinois Senator pointed out that if drivers kept their tires properly inflated and gave their cars regular tune-ups, the nation would save more oil than through offshore drilling.

"There are things that you can do individually though to save energy; making sure your tires are properly inflated, simple thing, but we could save all the oil that they’re talking about getting off drilling, if everybody was just inflating their tires and getting regular tune-ups. You could actually save just as much."

Republicans have gone into spasms of joy ever since, with conservative radio and tv ridiculing his comments. The Republican National Committee is selling tire gauges for $25 with the words "Barack Obama's Energy Plan" written on the side. They even handed them out to the press corps in a mock celebration of Sen. Obama's birthday.

Sounds funny right? Only thing is, turns out when it comes to tire gauges Obama is RIGHT...and for the GOP, ignorance is bliss.

Not only have Republican governors like Arnold Schwarzanegger (CA) and Charlie Crist (FL) stated as much in the past, but so has McCain mascot Sen. Joe Lieberman (CT), NASCAR and even the Department of Energy. In their snickering, Obama's detractors are only calling more attention to their own lack of insight.

Of course the problem here for Sen. Obama, is that there is even a problem to begin with. That the GOP can so easily distract voters with gimmicks, half-truths and the ridiculing of facts is a problem that spans from the corporate media to the viewing and listening public. With a few bright exceptions, most of the media reporting on this "Tire-Gauge" story has been he-said, she-said--with not much explanation on who is right and who is dead wrong. But no surprise there. This is the same media that turned Al Gore's intellect into a handicap, and found fault for Sen. John Kerry having nuanced and complex responses. Coupled with an American populace often so woefully misinformed they can't be bothered to google the facts, and one can see why using the ignorance card has become a popular GOP strategy. After all, who's going to call them on it?

Well, in a refreshing change of politics-as-usual, turns out the Democrat will.

Unlike past candidates who seemed to fear that "acting smart" would not be seen as "cool," Sen. Obama has thus shown he's not "dumbing it down" for anyone. At a town hall meeting in Ohio, he blasted the GOP with wit and withering humor not only on their silly antics, but the anti-intellectualism they seem to praise.

"It's like these guys take pride in ignorance! It's like they like being ignorant."--Sen. Obama

Gotta respect that. Of course, they'll probably start claiming he's being "Uppity."

From TIME magazine:

The Bush Administration estimates that expanded offshore drilling could increase oil production by 200,000 bbl. per day by 2030. We use about 20 million bbl. per day, so that would meet about 1% of our demand two decades from now. Meanwhile, efficiency experts say that keeping tires inflated can improve gas mileage 3%, and regular maintenance can add another 4%. Many drivers already follow their advice, but if everyone did, we could immediately reduce demand several percentage points. In other words: Obama is right.
2006 Press headline, NASCAR

Tires are the Rodney Dangerfield of the automotive world…[they] get no respect. Tire maintenance key to safety, fuel economy.
Mark Silva at

It looks like the Republican National Committee might owe Democrat Barack Obama a tire rotation, wheel balancing and brake job while they're at it. After all the grief that Obama has taken from the RNC and from rival John McCain this week over the Democrat's comment that motorists could save some more oil if only they put some more air in their tires, it turns out a search of the clips -- conducted by a motivated party -- has found that the administraiton of President Bush -- George H.W. Bush -- was telling Americans the same thing back in 1990.
The official response of the Obama Campaign:

"And while the McCain team may is busy amusing themselves, the fact is that the idea they’re attacking is supported by, among others, top McCain surrogate Joe Lieberman, conference call host Mike Rogers, Governors Charlie Crist and Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Department of Energy, and NASCAR — all of whom have urged Americans to help save energy by minding tire pressure," the Obama team continued in the email. "But hey, who ever let the facts — or supporters’ positions — get in the way of a political attack? Aboard the Low Road Express, that’s no problem at all."

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