Who does John McCain think his supporters are?

He promises policies “enabling you to decide where to drill for oil.”
Well, I guess I could, if I had a drill rig. Otherwise it’s just Exxon he’s enabling.

Yesterday’s blast email from Rick Davis, John McCain’s campaign manager, to his supporters list starts out by making fun of the idea that Americans might want to waste less gasoline by inflating their tires properly.

That’s completely cogruent with traditional American values.

Save not, want not.

A penny saved is a penny lost.

Mess it up, throw it out.

Never, never do without.

After all, hasn’t the GOP always been the party of wretched excess, uncompromisingly opposed to thrift and common sense?

But then the letter gets surreal.

John McCain is prepared to lead our country as president to break our dependence on foreign oil with real solutions. John McCain believes we should lift the federal ban on offshore drilling, enabling you to decide where we drill for oil.

Howzzat again? Enabling me to decide where we drill for oil? Now where did I leave that dratted drilling rig? I know that Gregor Samsa woke one morning to discover that he had been transformed into a giant cockroach, but I think that if I had been transformed into a major oil company overnight I would have noticed it by now.

Since no individual or community gets to decide where to drill for oil, that sentence only make sense if addressed to Hess or Exxon Mobil or Chevron. While it’s no secret that McCain’s real constituency is oil executives (he’s “in the tank for Big Oil,” as Blue Texan puts it), wouldn’t be smarter for Rick Davis not to let on?

By the way: Speaking of “enabling,” that’s the word used by drug abuse professionals to describe the actions of friends and family members that help an addict feed his addiction. In that technical sense, McCain is indeed”enabling.” As someone said, his plan for dealing with our addiction to imported oil is to buy a bigger needle.


A reader suggests an additional aspect of the letter, one which (were the shoe on the other foot) McCain would exploit and AP and the cable newsers would treat as an issue of earth-shattering importance: that McCain has shown himself up as an out-of-touch elitist.

Maybe John McCain can afford to laugh about inflating your tires. I guess once you marry a hundred million bucks you don’t have to worry about your gas mileage. But there are lots of us out there who are really hurting, and we don’t think it’s funny at all. Just shows how out of touch he is.

Not only that: he wants to charge you $25 for a tire gauge you can get for $2.99 at Ace Hardware. Who knows? Maybe he thinks that’s a good deal. But he’s not getting my $25. Let him ask his oil company buddies.

The guy just doesn’t get it. No wonder he thinks that we’re better off now than we were eight years ago.

Wouldn’t that make a great TV spot, with a middle-aged, overweight white guy in work-shirt? Not an Obama spot, but maybe the AFL-CIO.

[Full text, with headers, at the jump.]

From: Rick Davis, McCain Campaign Manager

To: xxxxxxxxxxxx@gmail.com

Date: Mon, Aug 4, 2008 at 8:51 AM

Subject: Have you checked your tires lately?

Mailed-by: bounces.johnmccain.com

hide details Aug 4 (2 days ago) Reply

McCain Team –

Americans across the country are feeling the effects of high gas prices and our need to expand domestic oil production.

John McCain says we need offshore oil drilling and we need it now. Senator Barack Obama has consistently opposed offshore drilling – calling it a “gimmick.” Senator Obama’s solution to high gas prices is telling Americans to make sure their tires are inflated.

Today, I’m asking for your help in putting Senator Obama’s “tire gauge” energy policy to the test. With an immediate donation of $25 or more, we will send you an “Obama Energy Plan” tire pressure gauge. Will simply inflating your tires reduce the financial burden of high gas prices on your wallet?

It’s clear Senator Obama has no plan to address the energy challenges we face as a nation. He has said no to offshore drilling, no to expanding domestic drilling and no to nuclear energy. He has no plan to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

John McCain is prepared to lead our country as president to break our dependence on foreign oil with real solutions. John McCain believes we should lift the federal ban on offshore drilling, enabling you to decide where we drill for oil.

But John McCain won’t be able to enact these policies without your help in electing him as our next president.

Please help us put Senator Obama’s energy plan to the test – donate $25 or more for your very own “Obama Energy Plan” tire pressure gauge.

Thanks, as always, for your support.


Rick Davis

Campaign Manager

P.S. Our next president’s energy policy will need to reduce our dependency on foreign oil. John McCain believes we need offshore drilling now. Senator Obama’s plan is calling on Americans to check their tire pressure. We’re asking for your help in testing out Senator Obama’s energy plan. With your donation of $25 or more right now, we’ll send you a tire gauge to test for yourself, Senator Obama’s “tire gauge” energy policy.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com