Wow. House Republicans are now saying that their hissy fit cum frat party on the floor is lowering the price of oil.

Not for the first time, I have to wonder: do they believe this? Do they really indulge in this kind of magical thinking?

The oil price issue is an interesting political case. It’s immensely influential in our daily economic life, but we have virtually no idea why it behaves the way it does. Oil is like the gods were for Greeks — omnipresent, looming, utterly mysterious. Like the Greeks, we construct elaborate theories to explain its behavior. I see plausible arguments about speculators, about geopolitical maneuvering, about fundamentals of supply and demand, but in the end, all the explanations are post hoc. Nobody has any idea what the price of oil is going to do tomorrow, any more than the Greeks new what Eris was going to do next.

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That basically leaves a blank slate. Politicians, like priests of old, can ascribe movements in the price of oil and gas to whatever the hell they want. Republicans make great use of this fact. Right now they are blaming the Democratic Congress for the recent runup in gas prices. Now they’re taking credit for the recent dip in prices. And if prices go back up tomorrow, well, then it’s Pelosi’s fault again.

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But do they really believe it? You have to wonder.

Me, I ascribe the recent drop in oil to the introduction of Obama’s excellent energy plan. Thanks, Obama!