The Trail: A Daily Diary of Campaign 2008


Ad Watch

Obama Knocks 'Old Politics' of McCain

By Howard Kurtz
The Ad: John McCain is blaming Barack Obama for gas prices? The same old politics. Barack Obama thinks high gas prices deserve serious answers and a serious plan. Crack down on oil speculators, raise mileage standards and fast-track alternative fuels.

Analysis: This response ad by Barack Obama uses a classic jujitsu move to turn the attack back on his Republican opponent. Even some McCain supporters acknowledged that his commercial blaming rising gas prices on a Democrat who has been in the Senate for four years was a stretch, especially when McCain himself has said the problem was 30 years in the making.

The key message is that McCain is a practitioner of "old politics" -- the word "old" sits adjacent to the 71-year-old candidate's face -- an approach that both invites viewers to dismiss his charges and positions Obama as espousing a fresh approach to Washington.

But Obama's proposed solutions are long-term in nature and would have no impact on gas prices for years. Many experts doubt that oil speculators are to blame for rising oil prices. Higher mileage standards have already been proposed, and stalled, in Congress, and there is no guarantee that alternative fuels would be financially feasible. Beyond that, the ad says nothing about the cost of a major research program to develop alternatives to gasoline.

The Obama campaign waited to respond to the McCain spot, suggesting a belated concern that the Arizonan's continued attacks on Obama's opposition to offshore oil drilling could be gaining some political traction.

Posted at 7:25 PM ET on Jul 29, 2008  | Category:  Ad Watch
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Thanks DaveC.

It's always nice to hear a little truth once in awhile, rather than all the partisan rhetoric.

That being said, I always respected John McCain up until he started kissing up to Bush and the Evangelical right, but he's just too old now. He would have made a much better president than W eight years ago, though.

Posted by: Scott | July 31, 2008 8:59 AM

Ok, What's Obama's middle name? Hussein, I believe it is? As far as the war goes, if all soldiers come home, all that's going to do is drag the Iraqis over here to the US to destroy our country. Sometimes you have to think what's the better decision. Not all decisions are smart but there's always one better than the other.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 31, 2008 4:42 AM

Ok, first of all for all of you democrats out there...can't you see past Obama? He's a Muslim trying to take over America. He claims he doesn't know anything about his preacher saying "It's not God Bless America, It's God D*** America." Yeah, right. That preacher should have been struck dead right there in his steps. He's been attending this church for over 20 years and knew nothing about it? Democrats support homosexuality and the homosexual marriages also along with abortions. And I'd say every democrat that agrees with that is worthless. Who could kill an innocent baby? A child that has done nothing wrong but given a chance of life that they take away from it. If you're not ready for a child then that's a choice you have to make and deal with consequences that you put yourself in. Half the people that vote for the Democratic party don't even know what it's all about. They were just told or taught to without going into detail and learning all of the things they support and are for. And you people who say that if John McCain gets in office, the world will end..If a Muslim takes over America, what do you think will happen? He's not an American. His wife had even announced that she was never proud of the United States until now. Another thing, go to you tube, type in Obama not saluting the flag. Find out how much he really cares about this country. Every one is showing RESPECT for the country by putting their hand over their heart while he's just standing there with his hands folded together. Can we say hypocrite? Why would we want anyone standing up for our country that doesn't even have enough respect to simply put your hand over your heart during the most important song of the US?

John McCain 2008! (WATCH)

Posted by: Jessica | July 31, 2008 4:35 AM

A few thoughts from a long time oil industry worker that will not be popular:
Both the Democratic and Republican parties are totally clueless about energy:
Republican myth - We should drill offshore. We aren't drilling enough offshore. The Democrats won't let us drill offshore, etc.
Every drilling rig in the world is drilling. There is a multi-year backlog of identified drill sites waiting on a rig to drill them. Rigs are being built as fast they can be built. Every rig being built is already on long term contract. The best areas of the Gulf of Mexico, the proven development areas are where the US offshore rigs are already drilling up a storm. Offshore Florida in the GOM is an interesting potential exploration area. George Bush, Jeb Bush and John McCain all opposed drilling there for year after year until 2008 when they all got religion. Of course, the people of Florida didn't want it either, and even today, I'm not sure they want it. There are no significant environmental reasons not to drill offshore Florida in the GOM (I'm an oil man) but the people of Florida might not like all the infrastructure such as shore bases, gas plants, pipelines, workboats, helicopters, truck traffic, refineries, chemical plants, a few minor spills, trash washing up on the beaches, etc. If we open up any new exploration area to drilling, it will take several years to identify drillable prospects (have to shoot seismic, process it, develop prospects, etc.). New exploration areas often take 10 years to produce significant quantities of oil and gas and often take 20 years to reach peak production. Initial wells drilled in exploration areas tend to have a low success rate (lots of dry holes at first). If we divert drilling rigs from the proven development areas offshore Louisiana and offshore Texas to Florida IT WILL REDUCE US PRODUCTION. I repeat, IT WILL REDUCE US PRODUCTION. Each well drilled in an exploration area will be one less well that can be drilled in a proven production area. Get the picture?
Don't even get me started about the improbability of finding anything off the East Coast or the West Coast (except for California, which will not allow drilling due to an unfortunate oil spill they once had).
Democratic myth - The oil companies aren't drilling on millions of acres they already have leased, why give them more?
Most land that is leased, never produces anything, except large leasing bonuses to the government or the mineral owners. You have to lease a lot of acreage to explore effectively. You shoot seismic, process it, evaluate it, develop prospects, and then drill a well, etc. Most of the acreage turns out not be productive. Do they want us to drill more dry holes in unproductive areas? THAT WOULD REDUCE US OIL AND GAS PRODUCTION. If we could make money drilling in any given area we would.
Republican Myth - There aren't enough refineries in the US. There is a lack of refining capacity.
There is no shortage of refining capacity in the US (except briefly after a big storm). Gasoline demand has fallen this year and refining margins are very weak at the moment. Refiners and retailers are not making very much money at the moment. The idea that no new refineries are being built in the US does not account for the substantial increases in refinery throughput due to continual upgrades and expansion projects. Marathon and others are right in the middle of building new processing units at existing plants. The number of refineries is irrelevant; it is throughput that matters.
Democratic myth - Drilling ANWAR will hurt the environment.
Drilling there will not hurt the environment. We can directionally drill from a handful of drilling pads and leave 99% of the land untouched.
Republican myth - We should drill ANWAR now.
ANWAR is our last big reserve of oil, why drain it now? It will only become even more valuable down the road. It's not going anywhere. If you think gasoline is high now, it's nothing compared to what it will be in 30 years.
The really big myth that the Republicans and the Democrats have all bought into - The market doesn't work.
The market does work. Active drilling rig counts are soaring. Capex is being poured into new drilling. Supply (at least for the next 10 years or so) will increase. Demand is starting to fall in the US. Some foreign governments set the price of gasoline internally and have kept it low this year (politics) but they are now starting to increase prices they charge their citizens (can't afford to keep subsidizing it that much). As the prices in such countries finally fully respond to the underlying cost of crude, demand will fall in those countries. The market works.
The 9000 elephant in the room nobody wants to talk about - Conservation.
The US uses 21 million barrels of oil per day and imports about 2/3rds of it. Three to five million barrels a day would be saved if bubba would trade his big SUV or 3/4 ton 4x4 crew-cab pickup for a Civic. The Republicans and a few Democrats from Michigan blocked increases in CAFE standards for year after year after year after decade. Bush and McCain, where were they?
We are now moving towards a reasonable US vehicle fleet. It takes several years to feel the effect of this movement.
Any politician who tells the American people that they need to drive smaller vehicles won't get two votes for dogcatcher.
One more Republican myth - We should be allowed to drill all the shale oil in the US. Shale oil is not oil it is kerogen. It will not flow into a well like oil. It has to be super-heated to release hydrocarbons. Nobody is stopping anyone from developing shale oil. It just happens to cost several hundred dollars a barrel to develop and produce. Also needs a lot of water and electricity. Also needs new purpose-build refineries. You can't cure $150 a barrel oil with a new source of $200 a barrel oil.
Democratic myth - Oil companies are making too much profit. They are should be hit with a windfall profits tax.
A windfall profits tax will reduce the funds available to spend on new drilling. IT WILL REDUCE THE SUPPLY OF OIL. IT WILL INCREASE THE PRICE OF OIL. We are drilling as fast as we can get the rigs to drill with. Leave us alone and we will find the oil and get it on production. Why? Because we make money for our shareholders doing it!
I am very hopeful about the oil industry and the consumers quietly solving the high price of oil and gasoline within a couple of years.
I am not hopeful about the politicians not making it worse with their misguided efforts.

Posted by: DaveC | July 30, 2008 7:42 PM

"Barack Obama thinks high gas prices deserve serious answers and a serious plan."

What the ad doesn't say is that Obama's ok with high gas prices:

CNBC's John Harwood: So could the (high) oil prices help us?

Barack Obama: I think that I would have preferred a gradual adjustment. The fact that this is such a shock to American pocketbooks is not a good thing. But if we take some steps right now to help people make the adjustment, first of all by putting more money in their pockets, but also by encouraging the market to adapt to these new circumstances more rapidly, particularly U.S. automakers...

The obvious inference is that Obama doesn't object to $4 a gallon gas per se, just how rapidly the price increased. Most Americans hate it and want gas prices to go down as rapidly as possible. Obama wants to "help people to make the adjustment" to "new circumstances."

Posted by: Anonymous | July 30, 2008 5:00 PM

If you started drilling TODAY you would not receive one drop until 10 years from now. Here's the real kicker whoever drills that oil out of OUR National interests now gets to sell that oil on the open market. You really think they'll just give the il back to America. It's the most retarded thing I ave ever heard. "We need to drill." Why? So oil companies can make easier profits?
I say fine drill then; but every single drop belongs to America' it goes right into our national reserve. If you were to put those stipulations on it then the Reich Wing would simply shut up as they should. The GOP brought us this America plain and simple and now they want to blame someone else. Shameful liars and cowards.

Posted by: Stanley Ford | July 30, 2008 4:27 PM

If McCain doesn't give a hoot about our troops than Obama would be the best candidate on account of the fact that there are thousands of US troop in Iraq right now. watch this video and tell us what you think!

Real Brave Audio

Posted by: Real Brave Audio | July 30, 2008 4:15 PM

If McCain doesn't give a hoot about our troops than Obama would be the best candidate on account of the fact that there are thousands of US troop in Iraq right now. watch this video and tell us what you think!

Real Brave Audio

Posted by: Real Brave Audio | July 30, 2008 4:15 PM

The link of the said video Obama v. McCain: Setting the Tone is here

Posted by: Tanya Enriquez | July 30, 2008 12:28 PM

I think Obama has a better plan than McCain ha,that is why I'm leaning towards obama. Furthermore, the GOP base is not even warming up to mccain (of course, i could be wrong) and even though it's still early in the game, this just proves to show how we see our candidates to-date. i know i will get burned for this, but i think mccain isa warmonger. i get the impression that he doesn't care to what happens to our troops in the middle east and the other parts of the world. Can't we just all get along? i think it is time for a purification; i think it is time for a change; i think it is time for obama time. Now that the candidates are set for the US Presidential Election, Barack Obama and John McCain are beginning to set the tone for their campaign. I actually found this awhile ago in Obama v. McCain: Setting the Tone, looking at their most recent speeches, what do you think about what you hear?

Posted by: Tanya Enriquez | July 30, 2008 12:25 PM

I am going to comment on one more thing. The only reason why you people want Obama to win is because he is African American. If he had been Hillary you people wouldn't have stood up for her like that. Now would you have or wouldn't you?

Posted by: Jade | July 30, 2008 11:36 AM

At least while Obama was over in Europe pretending to be President. John Mccain was here actually listening to us and caring about what was going on with the economy stupids. Get over yourselves you are just upset that you know Obama has a long way to go. Also, make no mistake that Europe's votes don't count for an American President....

Posted by: Jade | July 30, 2008 11:33 AM

I just want to say that the republicans aren't to blame for the gas prices being so high. Who was in office before Bush even took office? Clinton. Democrat of course. So now congress is majority of Democrats and I was watching cnsbc last night and Obama is not the only one to blame for the oil prices. It is also in retrospect the other democrats as well who are to blame while we are barely making ends meet Obama gets to take a vacation in Hawaii!!!!!!!! After he took a weeks vacation in Europe. I have been to Germany one time and that was because my mother and father were stationed there. God bless us all if Obama becomes President. He is already declaring himself leader of the World. And you people call republicans liars? I say democrats need to take a real long good look at themselves.

Posted by: Jade | July 30, 2008 11:30 AM

this republican admin has completely compromised our national security in every way. a vote to continue their agenda is national suicide.

Posted by: lord havemercy | July 30, 2008 9:34 AM

Neither of these jokers has a solution. So, let the free market come up with a solution. Ford and Chevy retooling their plants to make smaller more fuel efficient cars - that wasn't the result of a 20 year plan by either party to bring mpg up to average 22. And no one has the nads to turn the mirror on the American voter with his Mcmansion and Expedition. Let gasoline go up to $5/gal. and we might even see that conserving becomes fashionable.

Posted by: David | July 30, 2008 12:44 AM

I don't know what is wrong with John McCain. Why tell an obvious lie? A lie that even the most loyal republicans know is a lie. A lie that even low information voters know is a lie. A lie that even some children know is a lie. And then to add insult to injury, put the lie in a TV ad.
There should have been logical people in that campaign who should have been screaming and hollering, "No, No". This is why they get paid.

The question for us now is to figure out what this says to us about McCain.

Posted by: Fred | July 30, 2008 12:29 AM

FINALLY - Obama kicks some old geezer butt! McSleezy tried to pin 40 years of oil gluttony on Obama and it didn't stick! Obama has a much better energy plan than the old codger for Arizona.

Posted by: Daddio on the Paddio | July 29, 2008 11:28 PM

John Mccain and the whole Republican chain of connected crooks has done this type of smearing campaigning through out. Their attention is primarily focused on reaching and biasly influencing those who are less informed. Their tactics are directed towards a vast majority of voters who do not closely and attentively probe on each candidates' ideals and policy proposals. Instead they obtain misconstrued statements and perception inspired arguments, that only one that comprehends the real facts would find absolutely as shallow reasoning, leave alone just plain stupidity.
For me, afer weighing out on the two candidates; style, creativity, competence in approaching issues facing the country, i grow more convinced that we are only begining to see what the promise of an Obama administration holds. Government can work for the people, but people have to be engaged. Administrations such as Bush's are only able to thrive due to people's detachment and ignorance towards the system. America is a great democracy,(most succesful in history to date) but it has only survived thus far because of those same principals and ideals taken for granted by many today.

Posted by: Martin | July 29, 2008 11:12 PM


Common sense would have meant developing a sensible energy policy 35 years ago, when the first oil crisis hit.

Instead the Republicans and big oil continued to lie to the American people about our long-term interests. And people have been lied to for so long that they think we are still being lied to and that there's a lot of oil in Alaska, etc. and that this is all a ruse to get more policies favorable to US big oil.

In the immortal words of Texan George W. Bush, "Fool me once, shame on -- shame on you. Fool me -- you can't get fooled again."

Posted by: Anonymous | July 29, 2008 10:19 PM

First, the trade deficit- drilling our own oil is the single largest short term action we can take to reduce the trade deficit.

Second, the idea that higher prices at the pump will make alternative energy appear more financially desirable is nonsense.

If gas goes up high enough, we will all be walking long before a national "oil free" energy infrastructure is in place.

Where has all the common sense gone?

Posted by: dan | July 29, 2008 9:50 PM

Mccain get suckered into going off message and spending his time attacking Obama. Then Obama flips it on him. Does Obama know how to play this game of what?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 29, 2008 9:35 PM

MoveOn or somebody should just come out and call McCain a liar.

In just the past week alone, he lied about:

1) Obama being responsible for $4 a gallon gas

2) Obama's motive towards Iraq vis-a-vis winning the election

3) Obama using the wounded warriors as a photo op

In just the past week!

Now, I know there are a lot of ignorant people in the US who don't know any better, and I know there are a lot of immoral people in America who could care less; but do those people really constitute a ruling majority?

If so, we are screwed.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 29, 2008 9:16 PM

Drilling for oil, isn't that what the oil companies want. If were smart, we will not support offshore drilling that not going to help either within 7-10 years so why not concentrate on on a different energy plan that cuts oil out anyway. Theres not enough oil with other nations rapidly growing so we need to develop alternatives that so were not dependent so much on oil anyway. If not we'll continue to use it until our last drop.

Posted by: Greg | July 29, 2008 9:06 PM

My latest rant is about the notion that "no bias no bull" means that reguardless of the news worthyness of a story or degree to which one candidate embodies a particular trait, both candidates get equal time and equal blame or credit. It is not equally newsworthy that McCain eats at a German restaurant while Obama give a speach to 200,000 Germans. It is not equally news worthy when Obama flys with Marines in a V-22 in Iraq, while McCain rides in a golf cart with Bush senior, but both of these stories got equal coverage on CNN.

It is also not the fair to say that both Obama and McCain are equally in bed with lobbyests because Obama will take a campaign contribution from a state or local lobbyest while McCain has in his campaign lobbyests at every level, and he takes money from any lobbyest and in any amount, but the CNN suggested that "no bull" they were both pretty much the same. By the way, in addition CNN seems to believe that lobbyests are perfectly ok, maybe even necessary for the functioning of our government. CNN seems to feel that so long as a politicians doesn't guarrantee a specific outcome in exchange for campaign contributions, that everything is fine. How stupid are we supposed to be? Are we supposed to believe that companies pay millions of dollars to lobbyests and campaign contributions with no expectation that they will get anything in return. If all they get is access and that access leads to no tangible benefit then why would they continue to spend the money.

Fair and balanced, or no bias no bull, means that you look at the story and the data and make a determination of the worthyness of the story, or the meaning of the data, and present that to your viewers without regaurd to your own political beliefs. It doesn't mean that any politician, no matter how uninteresting or how stupid his ideas, gets the same treatment from the press. This is a bit like the notion that since voters were upset about the Republican impeachment of Clinton for getting BJ from an intern, that they would be equally upset about impeaching a president for violating the constitution, bill of rights, oath of office, and the law.

Posted by: captbilly | July 29, 2008 8:59 PM

Good response ad. There is no quick solution, by the way. Obama acknowledges that and McCain pretends that approving a off-shore oil lease grab for the oil companies will cause them to lower prices. This year intelligence will trump fear - but it will be close. Americans desperately need to become more sophisticated about how their country and the world actually works. It would help if the media spent some time trying to educate them, rather than communicating only in one-step solutions and sound bite slogans.

Posted by: Chuck | July 29, 2008 8:49 PM

"The Obama campaign waited to respond to the McCain spot, suggesting a belated concern that the Arizonan's continued attacks on Obama's opposition to offshore oil drilling could be gaining some political traction."
Maybe Camp Obama ignore it last week as they don't want to muddle their message of the week which was foreign policy...this week message is on domestic issues and energy is part of it...thus that might have explained their decision to respond

Posted by: Stan | July 29, 2008 8:33 PM

"there is no guarantee that alternative fuels are financially feasible".. well there IS a guarantee that oil prices will continue to rise, which would make alternative fuels financially feasible. better to get a head start.

you're right, the ad says nothing about the cost of a long term R & D program to develop solutions. the ad is also 30 seconds long. the ad also provides a website where one can read about the cost of a long term R & D program to develop solutions.

Posted by: wingdingbat | July 29, 2008 8:32 PM

SAP f u

Posted by: ctlangis | July 29, 2008 8:22 PM

why are all the stories written with such an incredible bias in favor of republicans.. cnn is starting to follow fox, although not as blatantly biased, the stories are definately skewed!!

Posted by: pissed_off attorney | July 29, 2008 8:22 PM

"Republicans have us at war in two countries...."
THIS COMMENT IS ON THE MONEY!!! And why this former republican has now donated to Obama.

Posted by: tai hunter | July 29, 2008 8:04 PM

Republicans have us at war in two countries as a result of Republican lies and deceptions, and we might be in two more wars--Iran and Pakistan--by November. We have alienated the entire Muslim world and most of the rest.

The dollar has lost 60% of its value against the euro, and the once mighty dollar is losing its reserve currency role.

The Republicans' policies have driven up the price of both oil and gold by 400%.

Inflation is in double digits. Employment is falling.

The Republican economy in the 21st century has been unable to create net new jobs for Americans except for low wage domestic services such as waitresses, bartenders, retail clerks and hospital orderlies.

Republican deregulation brought about fraud in mortgage lending and dangerous financial instruments which have collapsed the housing market, leaving a million or more homeowners facing foreclosure. The financial system is in disarray and might collapse from insolvency.

The trade and budget deficits have exploded. The US trade deficit is larger than the combined trade deficits of every deficit country in the world.

The US can no longer finance its wars or its own government and relies on foreign loans to function day to day. To pay for its consumption, the US sells its existing assets--companies, real estate, toll roads, whatever it can offer--to foreigners.

Republicans have run roughshod over the US Constitution, Congress, the courts and civil liberties. Republicans have made it perfectly clear that they believe that our civil liberties make us unsafe--precisely the opposite view of our Founding Fathers. Yet, Republicans regard themselves as the Patriotic Party.

The Republicans have violated the Nuremberg prohibitions against war crimes, and they have violated the Geneva Conventions against torture and abuse of prisoners. Republican disregard for human rights ranks with that of history's great tyrants.

The Republicans have put in place the foundation for a police state, which they have no problem using against fellow citizens!

We must get the Republicans totally out of power, or we will have no country left for any of us!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 29, 2008 7:51 PM

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