If it’s an election, there is pandering. That doesn’t mean it won’t sway voters. It also doesn’t mean that short-term relief has anything to do with long-term plans, which includes Hillary Clinton stumping for a gas tax holiday.

“She has been criticized by her opponent and by others, who say, ‘Oh, it is just pandering to people to offer them gasoline relief,'” he said, standing atop a long flatbed truck at an early polling rally. “Well, let me tell you something folks — when people are choosing every week between whether they got enough money to go to work and enough money to put food on the tables for their kids — it is not pandering to try and help them get through the next six months. … .. “Hillary has got a long record as an environmentalist,” he said. “But to say that giving people a little slack on these gas prices is going to discourage us from switching to higher mileage cars is just factually wrong. We’re dealing with people here that cannot pay their bills.” – Bill Clinton

Make no mistake, the gas tax holiday is silly as energy policy. Worse than that, it’s posturing that doesn’t
accomplish anything in the long-term. But it’s a way to reach swing voters, especially people
who are desperate for any kind of relief at all. It’s a feel your pain moment that Clinton has grabbed, which Obama is ignoring for the high road. That’s his problem.

Thomas Friedman weighs in today and
is actually correct for a change:

It is great to see that we finally have some national unity on energy policy.
Unfortunately, the unifying idea is so ridiculous, so unworthy of the people
aspiring to lead our nation, it takes your breath away. Hillary Clinton has
decided to line up with John McCain in pushing to suspend the federal excise
tax on gasoline, 18.4 cents a gallon, for this summer’s travel season.
This is not an energy policy. This is money laundering: we borrow money from
China and ship it to Saudi Arabia and take a little cut for ourselves as it
goes through our gas tanks. What a way to build our country.

… .. The McCain-Clinton gas holiday proposal is a perfect example of what
energy expert Peter Schwartz of Global Business Network describes as the true
American energy policy today: “Maximize demand, minimize supply and
buy the rest from the people who hate us the most.

Dumb
as We Wanna Be

But the worst culprits are in Congress. I know, you’re shocked:

… Few Americans know it, but for almost a year now, Congress has been bickering
over whether and how to renew the investment tax credit to stimulate investment
in solar energy and the production tax credit to encourage investment in wind
energy. The bickering has been so poisonous that when Congress passed the
2007 energy bill last December, it failed to extend any stimulus for wind
and solar energy production. Oil and gas kept all their credits, but those
for wind and solar have been left to expire this December. I am not making
this up. At a time when we should be throwing everything into clean power
innovation, we are squabbling over pennies. .. …

Friedman also congratulates Obama for not taking the gas tax holiday road, which is ridiculous considering Obama is a nuke man. Obama is too busy giving breaks to campaign contributors like
Exelon, using it on stump to win votes, while not telling the truth (or voting for Cheney’s energy policy, as JoeCHI reminds us again; Clinton did not). As for short-term breaks, Obama isn’t interested. It’s the biggest obstacle to his candidacy looking forward. He’ll just never connect.

It’s obvious why Clinton is for a gas tax holiday. In the short-term, those travel summer months when a lot of people get in their car and go on the road, anything could help. It’s exhibit A for why Clinton is winning lunch bucket Democrats. Hillary knows, as Bill does, that $10 can make the difference to a family facing hard times. She’s willing to take the hit in order to help them. But it has absolutely nothing to do with her long-term commitment to energy independence.

The thing that is so disappointing about Clinton’s coverage on the issue is that her energy plans are solid. If you look at the gas tax holiday idea as part of Clinton’s plan you’re missing her message. Right now the press is weighing in that the gas tax holiday is ridiculous, while ignoring her comprehensive long-term ideas. Voters, however, are likely paying attention. Some people are hurting so bad that what Clinton’s idea does is send the message that she understands their struggles, and in the short-term she’s willing to do anything she can to help. But that isn’t her whole energy plan. It’s also why Clinton is winning lunch bucket Democrats, and Obama isn’t. She gets it. He doesn’t.