Let Them Buy Hybrid Vans
In his NRO column, this week Mark Steyn mentions President Obama’s response to an audience having to do with lowering the price of gasoline:
He was asked a question by a citizen of the United States. The cost of a gallon of gas has doubled on Obama’s watch, and this gentleman asked, “Is there a chance of the price being lowered again?”
As the Associated Press reported it, the president responded “laughingly”: “I know some of these big guys, they’re all still driving their big SUVs. You know, they got their big monster trucks and everything. . . . If you’re complaining about the price of gas and you’re only getting eight miles a gallon — (laughter) . . . ”
That’s how the official White House transcript reported it: Laughter. Big yuks. “So, like I said, if you’re getting eight miles a gallon you may want to think about a trade-in. You can get a great deal.”
Glenn Reynolds has noted that the Associated Press has still scrubbed the exchange from the record. Luckily, one can find the video on YouTube, and even cue right up to the question, as I’ve done in the following embed:
What’s interesting is that the president visibly forces himself to step back in his commentary when he goes on:
Obama: You may have a big family, but it’s probably not that big, so… How many you have, ten kids, you say? Ten kids? [Pause for a stunned expression and probably a bit of lip biting.] Well, you definitely need a hybrid van, then.
No doubt, even folks who disagree with President Obama on just about everything would pull back from endorsing a ten-child family unless the parents can afford it. But that’s pretty much the point: Doubling the fuel bill on the car by which the large family gets around reduces affordability. Moreover, it reduces affordability for a family already in particular circumstances, and it’s not inconceivable that the family size resulted from adoptions meant to rescue the children from worse.
To declare that the father should spring for a large, expensive hybrid vehicle is to skirt the question, to put the blame for difficulties on the asker, and to impose government priorities on a highly diverse population — diverse not only in the liberal meaning of multiracial, but in the more significant (more conservative) meaning of varying circumstances and priorities.