On July 30, Barack Obama told a crowd in Missouri, “We could save all the oil that they’re talking about getting off drilling, if everybody was just inflating their tires and getting regular tune-ups.” Hilarious, right? Republicans thought so. They quickly seized on the statement to highlight Obama’s supposed lack of solutions on the energy crisis, using every form of communication to disseminate their hysterics — television, radio, blogs, carrier pigeons, smoke signals. They even manufactured God knows how many tire-pressure gauges emblazoned with the words “Obama’s Energy Plan,” and shipped them to reporters and, in a sign of possibly unprecedented dickishness, handed them out to Obama supporters outside Obama events.
It probably goes without saying that ensuring proper tire pressure is not Obama’s energy plan, and he was simply pointing out that basic conservation measures could have the same benefit as offshore drilling. But that kind of logic doesn’t get in the way of a good old-fashioned RNC mocking campaign. Yesterday, however, Obama finally responded. “It’s like these guys take pride in being ignorant,” he told a crowd in Ohio, then delivered the kicker. “Instead of running ads about Paris Hilton and Britney Spears, they should go talk to some energy experts and actually make a difference.” That line earned a standing ovation from the crowd, but is Obama’s response to Gaugegate getting the same response from the punditocracy?
• Michael Crowley’s reaction is that “given the way shallow national politics works, Obama will lose this exchange and wind up sounding like a Dukakisian know-it-all.” But maybe it’s possible “Obama really can turn the GOP’s juvenile tire-gauge gags to his advantage.” [Stump/New Republic]
• Jason Zengerle suggests there has never been “a more pitch-perfect response to the idiocy of the modern-day GOP.” [Plank/New Republic]
• Greg Sargent writes that Obama has been able to adopt “a lighter tone at times than the GOP is — something that represents a change from the last election.” It’s a “striking difference” from four years ago when “the GOP’s mockery of John Kerry had a kind of effortless quality” that the “pundits and opinion-makers” were more willing to join in on than they are now. [TPM Election Central]
• Hugh Hewitt prays to God to “let Obama keep talking about tires from now until November.” [Town Hall]
• Megan McArdle thinks Obama’s advice “does sound slightly unpresidential,” but “it’s hardly worth mentioning, much less mounting any sort of actual criticism.” [Atlantic]
• Ezra Klein contends “Obama is never better than when he’s intellectually indignant,” and suggests that if he were running the campaign, “the themes laid out in this video wouldn’t simply be my rejoinder to the GOP’s tire gauge bullshit. They’d be my message for the next few months.” [American Prospect]
• Jake Tapper notes that Obama’s claims have been deemed true by Politifact [Ed: And NASCAR!], which is why it “seems bizarre” that Republicans are mocking such measures “at a time of energy crisis.” [Political Punch/ABC News]
• Noam Scheiber doesn’t think Obama’s response “was quite pitch perfect — maybe a touch too eggheady with the mention of ‘experts,’” but it’s possible “this resonates more than usual after eight years of George W. Bush.” Even better was the applause line about the Paris Hilton ad: “If Obama adopts this as a standard refrain, that ad could end up backfiring on McCain.” [Stump/New Republic]
• Chuck Todd and friends believe it’s obvious “the hits have gotten a bit under Obama’s skin, but there are probably some Obama supporters who are glad to see he had some fight in him.” [First Read/MSNBC]
• Jonathan Martin notes that McCain himself went a little off message last night when he … agreed with Obama on the benefits of proper tire pressure, which “underscores the feeling held by many Republicans that he’s a tad too intellectually honest for his own good to carry out a mockery campaign against Obama.” [Politico]
• While Mark Silva reports that the George H.W. Bush administration was pushing the same idea as Obama in 1990. [Swamp/Chicago Tribune]—Dan Amira
For a complete and regularly updated guide to presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain — from First Love to Most Embarrassing Gaffe — read the 2008 Electopedia.