Chuck Schumer’s the best in the business at ginning up issues and headlines, albeit in ways that often seem designed to make him a one-man case for libertarianism. Today his big idea is to say that we should block planned arms sales to Saudi Arabia unless they make oil cheaper. This is a silly idea on a number of levels, but it does help illustrate the point that the shared conceit of the right and the left that our forward-leaning military posture in the Persian Gulf is helping us out economically by giving us leverage over the natural resources there is ultimately pretty hollow — our policies are just mistaken ones that fail to serve our interests.
As for Schumer, though, it’s always disappointing to see how deeply invested he is in gas price gimmicks. The United States is a very auto dependent country, obviously, but Schumer (along with Hillary Clinton) represents by far the largest pool of Americans who walk or use mass transit regularly (not just NYC residents, but also the large number of MetroNorth and LIRR users in the suburbs), as well as the city that forms the hub of our only decent intercity passenger rail network. On top of all that, barring major scandal he’s never going to lose his seat. If anyone in the Senate should be an advocate of good sense on transportation policy, it should be Schumer.
Photo of Riyadh by Flickr user Bakar2007–2008 used under a Creative Commons license