President Obama did something smart today by targeting oil-market speculation. First, it’s probably the right thing to do in terms of policy. Second, it shows that he is doing something rather than nothing on oil prices. And third, it produced this headline: “Obama moves to curb oil speculators”

I’ve often wondered why this White House is often so flat-footed when confronted with a problem. Clinton was always frustratingly nimble. No matter what the problem, he was always out front with ideas, initiatives and solutions. Even if they weren’t feasible, he could out-maneuver Republicans through sheer energy. 

Obama’s plodding style has hurt him, particularly on gas prices, where he has talked down to people, saying there was nothing he could do about it and not taking any responsibility. Now, in one move, he may have done some good, he has shown some action and therefore, some concern, and he instantly produced good headlines.  Even if you have no idea what oil futures trading is, you probably like the headline, “Obama calls for ‘Crackdown’ on Oil Market Trading”.