Banning the pickup truck

The Tuesday headline was clear: "Obama's new rules will transform U.S. auto fleet."

The Associated Press picked it up from there: "Some soccer moms will have to give up hulking SUVs. Nearly everybody else will drive smaller cars, and more of them will run on electricity. The higher mileage and emissions standards set by the Obama administration on Tuesday, which begin to take effect in 2012 and are to be achieved by 2016, will transform the American car and truck fleet.

"The new rules would bring new cars and trucks sold in the United States to an average of 35.5 miles per gallon, about 10 mpg more than today's standards. Passenger cars will be required to get 39 mpg, light trucks 30 mpg. That means cars and trucks on American roads will have to become smaller, lighter and more efficient."

Eric Fedewa, vice president of global powertrain forecasting for an auto consulting firm, told The AP the changes will make pickup trucks so much more expensive that they'll be used almost exclusively for work.

Oh, heavens. We're growing faint.

The wise and powerful wizard Obama, having loaned taxpayer money to Detroit to "bail them out" -- thus avoiding simple bankruptcy, where the firms might have shed their overly costly union contracts and emerged to renewed profitability -- now simply decrees what kind of cars Detroit will make. He might as well just put Howard Waxman, Charlie Rangel and Barney Frank in the executive offices at the Big Three, in fedoras and double-breasted striped zoot suits like Ayn Rand's Wesley Mouch, Cuffy Meigs, and Emma Chalmers, and have done with it.

Is this the same Barack Obama who said, late last month, with mock humility, "I don't want to run auto companies. ... I don't know how to create an affordable, well-designed plug-in hybrid"?

The chutzpah here, the arrogance, is astounding. Does this man really believe he has the whole nation hypnotized -- that he can say one thing while doing just the opposite?

Not everyone appears ready to gawk in awe as the naked emperor struts around in his new clothes. "Already on Tuesday, some drivers were skeptical," The AP reported. Dixie Bishop, who runs a plumbing business in San Antonio that uses vans, worried the new requirements will drive up her costs at a time when customers are cutting back on repairs.

"Are they going to take my horsepower down?" she asked. "I have to be able to carry old water heaters and toilets. It's not beneficial for me to haul one water heater at a time. We need the power to pull these heavy items."

It's possible a public dizzied by the pace of all this totalitarian "change" has only begun to respond. In fact, we might be willing to wager the average fuel economy of the vehicles on the American road will not be 35.5, any time soon.

We might be willing to bet that Americans will start to hold onto their powerful "old" vehicles, spending more to fix them up rather than falling for "tax credit" gimmicks to trade them in for dangerous little golf carts into which Obama and his bi-coastal elite want to see us squeezed.

Obama and congressional Democrats will fight any such resistance to their schemes by raising fuel taxes to artificially increase the price of gasoline. If that doesn't work, they'll try to outlaw the older, better performing vehicles, outright.

Give it a try, Mr. Obama. Ban the pickup truck -- and see who's sitting in the White House, trying to keep all these new marionette strings from getting tangled, come 2013.