In his 2006 State of the Union speech, George W. Bush “admitted” that “America is addicted to oil.”
Today, Barack H. Obama, speaking in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion, concurred with the now-official diagnosis of what ails the nation: “We know that our dependence on foreign oil endangers our security and our economy.”
This, of course, is utter poppycock, at both ends.
The object of addiction is cars, not oil. Automotive engines burn 71 percent of the petroleum used in the United States. And certainly at least another 10 percent of the country’s oil-use goes into manufacturing cars and car parts and facilitating related services, plus the making of asphalt for automotive roads.
So, remove the cars, and 80 percent of the oil demand disappears.
And — of course — Bush and Obama also mis-identify the addicts. Not only do the rich buy far more cars and use far more oil, but they are the primary beneficiaries of the corporate economy, which is intractably addicted to selling millions of new automobiles each and every year in the USA and elsewhere.
I’m tempted to say this strategic misdiagnosis is knowing. Yet Bush is a famous moron and Obama seems to have spent his entire adult life figuring out how to fuse himself with corporate interests and capitalist dogmas, so perhaps not.
Either way, though: Being told oil, rather than cars, is “our” problem is like having your internist tell you you have a bad cough, when you actually have lung cancer. The longer we deny the facts, the lower our odds of decent survival.
As always, Obama is a very major obstacle here, not any kind of change-bringer. Indeed, it’s noteworthy that Obama’s purported diagnosis of the problem is actually weaker and more dishonest than Bush’s. Bush “admitted” that oil, all oil, was the issue. Obama says it’s merely “foreign oil.”