Energy Policy Lingers as Obama's Achilles Heel
Matthew C. Nisbet, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Communication Studies, Public Policy, and Urban Affairs at Northeastern University. Nisbet studies the role of communication and advocacy in policymaking and public affairs, focusing on debates over over climate change, energy, and sustainability. Among awards and recognition, Nisbet has been a Visiting Shorenstein Fellow on Press, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, a Health Policy Investigator at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and a Google Science Communication Fellow. In 2011, the editors at the journal Nature recommended Nisbet's research as “essential reading for anyone with a passing interest in the climate change debate,” and the New Republic highlighted his work as a “fascinating dissection of the shortcomings of climate activism."
Last week I noted that McCain is scoring political body blows with a compelling message on energy and that the Obama campaign has not responded to the massive shifts in public preferences that have occurred on the issue since early spring of this year.
The message gap on energy grew wider this week as McCain released his latest television spot (clip above). McCain knows "that we must drill more in America and rescue our family budgets" claims the ad. Obama on the other hand--while staging rallies for adoring and chanting supporters--is personally responsible for rising gas prices and opposes "drilling in America" and "independence from foreign oil."
"Don't hope for more energy, vote for it," is the ad's signature line. A second ad titled "celeb," plays on growing resentment over Obama's perceived messiah and celebrity status and then quickly connects his perceived elitism to an absence of policy on energy (see clip below.)
Both TV spots are deceptive and play loose with the facts while advocating a solution to gas prices that cuts against expert consensus. Some media outlets, such as the USA Today, have run editorials fact checking the ad claims, but these media responses will do little good unless Obama is out in front with his own equally compelling narrative on how to tackle the energy problem.
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