Barack Obama’s press contingent has shrunk now that the primary campaign is over, but will we learn of everything he’s saying on the stump? On Monday in Flint, Michigan, Obama repeatedly declared that we’re funding terrorists when we buy foreign oil. In Tuesday’s Washington Post, Obama’s Flint speech drew one sentence at the very end of a story on page A-7. Doesn’t this passage stand out? (Courtesy of reporter Lynn Sweet's blog):
Oil money pays for the bombs going off from Baghdad to Beirut, and the bombast of dictators from Caracas to Tehran. Our nation will not be secure unless we take that leverage away, and our planet will not be safe unless we move decisively toward a clean energy future.
This is an odd passage for several reasons. First and foremost, far from taking "leverage" away from dictators in Caracas and Tehran, candidate Obama has explicitly promised to meet them without any troublesome diplomatic preconditions.
Second, Obama’s declaration that our oil purchases buy bombs on the Arab street doesn’t specify whether he means Iran, Saudi Arabia, or somehow al-Qaeda.
(Obama has hardly been clear on his policy toward Venezuela. Brent Bozell had something on his bumbling over Hugo Chavez and Colombian Marxist guerrillas. He’s also completely reversed himself in recent days on Iran, such as when he went to speak before the pro-Israel AIPAC lobby in Washington and tried to sound hawkish. But most of the media were too busy celebrating his "historic" primary battle to review those remarks for the public.)
Here are two other (earlier) passages in the Flint speech explicitly tying foreign oil and terrorism together:
We could have done something to end our addiction to oil, but instead we continued down a path that funds both sides of the war on terror, endangers our planet, and has left Americans struggling with four dollar a gallon gasoline....
In this century, we won’t be secure if we bankroll terrorists and dictators through our dependence on oil.
The third oddity in these passages is how once again, liberals and Democrats are always looking to stretch elastically the definition of "security" far beyond traditional matters of arms to the environment, or health care, or other issues they’re more comfortable discussing. So providing subsidies for solar energy or wind power isn’t just an energy plan – it’s a "national security" plan. Fighting global warming is a "security" plan. Fighting the spread of disease is a "security" plan.
The fourth oddity is simply the perversity of liberals charging that Bush and the Republicans are soft on terror because they haven’t tried to end "our addiction to oil." If buying foreign oil is funding terrorism, then aren’t the Democrats who oppose every effort to drill for domestic oil to blame for not stopping the funding of terror?
None of these questions or oddities is being analyzed by the media. The Post was more obsessed with the horse race, putting a poll of independents on Page One, and submerging the Flint speech at the very end of an Anne Kornblut story marking Al Gore’s endorsement of Obama in Detroit.
In the New York Times, reporter Jeff Zeleny was assigned the Gore endorsement for Tuesday morning, and he made no mention of the Flint speech. Instead, he giddily recounted how Gore compared Obama to George Washington and Christopher Columbus:
Mr. Obama, 46, smiled as Mr. Gore read a quote that President John F. Kennedy once read to a rival: "To exclude from positions of trust and command all those below the age of 44 would have kept Jefferson from writing the Declaration of Independence, Washington from commanding the Continental Army, Madison from fathering the Constitution and Christopher Columbus from even discovering America."
On energy, the Zeleny story added a nod to John McCain’s call to allow offshore oil drilling, and ended with a liberal attack on McCain:
Daniel J. Weiss, a global warming expert at the Center for American Progress, a liberal research group, said Mr. McCain’s call to lift the moratorium was a "partial capitulation" to the oil industry in that states that did not want to drill offshore would not have to.
"McCain is handing America’s coasts on a platter to the big oil companies the day before he goes to talk to them in Houston," Mr. Weiss said.
Zeleny quoted McCain on his oil proposal, but he quoted no pundit or think-tank expert critical of Obama in his story. It was helpfully headlined "Gore Endorses Obama as a Solver of Problems."