Brian Knowlton in the International Herald Tribune:
Bush hopes Cheney’s Mideast visit will rein in oil prices
WASHINGTON:With oil soaring to a record $108 a barrel amid mounting signs of U.S. economic turbulence, President George W. Bush said Monday that he was sending Vice President Dick Cheney to the Middle East to raise concerns about oil prices and to press Israeli and Palestinian leaders to move toward peace.
Cheney, who leaves Sunday, will meet with King Abdullah in Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil producer and the de facto leader of OPEC.
“Obviously, we want to see an increase in production,” said Dana Perino, an administration spokeswoman. “The president does want OPEC to take into consideration that its biggest customer, the United States – our economy has weakened and part of the reason is because of higher oil prices. We think that more supply would help, and I don’t anticipate that the vice president would have any other message than that one.”
The Bush administration is struggling to revive an American economy that is sagging under the weight of a housing slump, rising prices and a credit crisis, and it has had little luck persuading OPEC to increase production levels.
At a meeting Wednesday in Vienna, OPEC rebuffed a Bush statement two days earlier calling for increased output.
OPEC said speculators and what it called the “mismanagement” of the U.S. economy were to blame for high oil prices. The cartel left its production levels unchanged, saying that the market did not need more oil.
This would be funny it it weren’t so tragic and pathetic. After more than 7 years, this is what Bush’s energy strategy has ultimately come down to: sending his former oilman Vice President to the Middle East to beg OPEC for a boost in production. Apparently personal friendships with the Saudi royal family aren’t a sufficient solution to our energy problems after all. Who ever could have guessed?
For a trip down memory lane, it’s always fun to browse through the New York Times archives. For instance, the White House Press Secretary once urged OPEC not to cut production, because it would “harm American consumers and our economy.” That was in an article published on April Fool’s Day, 2004, when light sweet crude was trading at a whopping $35.76 per barrel.