So what about this idea of easing up on offshore drilling? Is Obama the consummate pol or what? Marc Ambinder has probably figured it out.
What is the Republican opposition left with? A few quibbles, says Ambinder. A question or two about why this bay and that not gulf.
For a Democratic president, this is a pretty gutsy move to open the public debate about an energy bill. Or, well, maybe it's not: it's high-reward, low-risk; environmentalists will complain, but then again, environmentalists complain. Aside from the substance, which is beyond our ken, the politics of this move is easy: with one fell swoop, Obama deprives Republicans of the major talking point they'd use to object to more expansive government-based climate remediation and energy prospecting policy.
In any event, it seems a little tone deaf, given what the public knows and will learn about the announcement, for Republicans to argue that Obama "continues to defy the will of the American people."
By announcing this BEFORE the Senate moves forward with its climate change legislation, which may or may not include cap-and-trade (probably not), the White House is betting that they'll force Republicans into a corner before the public debate begins, they'll give some cover to moderate Democratic members of Congress (who love it when Obama picks a fight with his own base), and they'll get some public cred with Americans who want to see the president moving quickly to find opportunities to create jobs. This isn't about votes in Congress per se, it's about perception, cover and framing the debate. It's also a move that tries to get ahead of rising gas prices.
Framing the debate? Framing the debate?? Is the White House finally doing what it should have been doing since 1/20/09? Will Democrats in Congress go along? Will they assist by using the power they've been given but have damn near thrown away? Tune in after spring break when everyone returns to exchange tales of anthrax, bricks and other jolly encounters with constituents.
Let's leave to one side for the moment the nervous anguish felt by many Obama supporters over the mere mention of drilling.
The idea that any intelligent person needs to defend the reality of climate change shows only how far we have fallen into the Foxhole. That's not a joke; it's a very real tragedy. Still, it's good to see that the ivory-tower group at East Anglia who withheld data have been exonerated for all but their academic snottiness or, as the British press puts it, the absence of transparency. I think we have a right to blame them, too, for aiding and abetting knuckle-draggers. Oh well.