By Dick Morris on May 12, 2011

In a desperate effort to divert anger from his Administration over gas prices and to stop people from focusing on how his anti-drilling policies have caused us to be so vulnerable to these price fluctuations, President Obama is pushing anti-oil company rhetoric, demanding increases in oil company taxes. He is confident, in doing so, that the Republican aversion to any tax increase will lead them to shield big oil and incur populist wrath.

He’s right the GOP can’t approve raising oil company taxes and that their refusal to do so will raise the party’s negatives among a broad swath of the population.

But he’s dead wrong in believing that raising this issue will, in any way, make up for his failure to promote domestic drilling. Obama has been so outspoken in his demand that we move away from dependence on fossil fuels and so naively futuristic in depending on renewable energy to replace it, that the average motorist will still grit his teeth in anger at the president every time he gases up. People get that “drill baby drill” is the best and nearest term solution to high gasoline prices and they get that Obama is on the wrong side of the issue.

A more subtle point, lost in the debate, is that decreasing oil company tax breaks makes drilling and exploration more costly. But, in the current environment of massive oil company profits, this tax increase won’t matter much. It is best that Republicans keep this idea to themselves and focus, instead, on the need for more domestic drilling.

This would be a great time to expose Obama’s failure to issue oil drilling permits in the gulf, his opposition to ANWR drilling, and his refusal to allow horizontal shale drilling and fracking.

Obama is following a strictly left wing playbook as he gears up for re-election.

* He invites a rapper to the White House whose lyrics drive people up the wall

* He digs up his amnesty proposal for immigrants, an idea he failed to push when he could have passed it in 2009.

* He rails against oil companies as gas prices go up.

* He casts himself as the defender of Medicare in the face of a radical GOP and demands tax increases for the rich.

Class warfare, economic populism, and encouraging minority turnout are his re-election strategies.

Unfortunately for him — and fortunately for us — they won’t work. Each tactic drives up turnout among Republican voters too, more than offsetting his gains. And each creates the impression that Obama is anti-business which fosters the idea that he is prolonging the recession by his divisive rhetoric. Finally, every time he speaks like a candidate, he undermines his own presidentiality and weakens his hold on the office. People want a leader, not an advocate, as president.

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