When Washington is in crisis mode, its officials move into high-speed action mode. Which is to say, they start talking faster.
And America’s gas pains — economic and political — are a major crisis that is hurting worst those who can afford it least. So Washington officials are a blur of action, racing in front of the cameras to promote their pet solutions.
The amazing aspect of escalating gasoline prices — they reached the lamentable landmark of $4 a gallon over the weekend — is that they haven’t done more damage to the U.S. economy.
The oil-price shocks of the ’70s and ’80s did much worse damage, but today’s economy seems much more resilient with interest rates low, exports surging and the dollar showing signs of stabilizing.
Well, where do we go from here?
The answer, for millions of Americans, is not very far if the oil barons and commodities speculators have their way. The cheap gas culture that has driven the nation’s economy and fostered unprecedented mobility may be over for good, leaving a major wreck along its vast network of superhighways that could take a decade or two to clean up.