Ordinarily PolitiFact's Obameter ratings for promises kept interests me little. Presidents tend to promise way more than they can ever deliver as a prerequisite to their election. Obama had the good fortune to take office with a unified government and a filibuster-proof Senate majority. So the project's a bit of a yawner.
Yesterday's item caught my attention, however. There had to be context behind a promise to tap the Strategic Oil Reserve. But the PolitiFact accounts mostly downplayed that context. Here's how PolitiFact presents the so-called promise:
"Will swap oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to cut prices . . . a limited, responsible swap of light oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) for heavy crude oil to help bring down prices at the pump."PolitiFact makes it sound like President Obama was pledging to use a release of oil from the Reserve as a method for dealing with the high price of petrol.
But the original context (Page 20) was more specific than that (bold emphasis added):
Swap Oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to Cut Prices: Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe we have an economic emergency that requires a limited, responsible swap of light oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) for heavy crude oil to help bring down prices at the pump.Unless President Obama believes that the oil prices constitute "an economic emergency" then this promise remains unfulfilled. And perhaps Obama believes exactly that. But why would PolitiFact bury that aspect of the promise with an ellipsis and refrain from considering it in the story?
My take: PolitiFact prepared a layup for the president. Each of the last three presidents (Bush, Clinton, Bush) tapped the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. By obscuring Obama's statement about economic emergency, the "Promise Kept" rating fails to register as a signal of failing economic policy and instead accords with the narrative of a president who addresses problems: He's fixing the high price of oil, not admitting to the existence of an economic emergency.
The latest Michael Ramirez cartoon makes much the same point about Obama's decision. Hat tip to Power Line.