AFP and the politics of gas prices

The Koch Brothers’ Americans for Prosperity sponsored this year’s RightOnline conference in Minneapolis, and organizers and attendees were certainly on message. Dave Weigel noted the introductory remarks from Tim Phillips, the president of Americans for Prosperity, who continues to insist that President Obama “systematically” wants “higher prices on gasoline.”

The third quote was a reminder of just how wired these activists are into the narrative about Barack Obama. Phillips referred, without naming the source, to a 2008 interview Obama gave the San Francisco Chronicle.

“What did he say about energy prices under his plan?” asked Phillips. “They will, what?

“Necessarily skyrocket!” yelled the crowd.

“That’s right! Necessarily skyrocket. It’s now part of liberal orthodoxy to want Americans to pay higher prices on energy.”

Oh, good. The talking points have been hammered home enough so that far-right activists can bark them like trained seals.

There are, however, two main problems with this. First, the notion that the Obama administration would want higher gas prices on purpose is deeply foolish. The right keeps pushing this line, and it continues to be ridiculous. Just consider a little common sense: if voters don’t want to pay more at the pump, and the president doesn’t want to make voters angry in advance of his re-election bid, why would he deliberately pursue this?

Second, Tim Phillips appears to have a bit of a credibility problem — Americans for Prosperity just so happens to be financed by oil industry money.

In other words, energy companies are financing a right-wing outfit to blame Obama for gas prices.

It’s quite a con job. Of course, this seems to work on the RightOnline crowd, but here’s hoping the American mainstream is at least a little wiser.