Give and Take Or Just Looks Like It…

Fresh on the heels of his announcement to open (red states’) coastline to oil exploration, President Obama this morning put out his new mandates for fuel efficiency. I was listening in to AM radio last night and it was quite humorous to hear the conservative commentator fall for this gambit in a big way. The most jaw-dropping moment was hearing him talk up conservation as if it was the most normal thing in the world. Conservatives talking about conserving! In this day and age! Obama has succeeded in changing right-wing attitudes and they don’t even realize it.

It reminded me of this piece on NPR, in which the water battles in FL, AL, and GA are getting local wingnut governor Sonny Purdue on board with long term plans for water, including signing a conservation bill. That they’re actually doing something progressive about their water situation and not just praying for rain is a positive step forward, I’d say.

Plenty of conservatives have picked up on the political nature of Obama’s recent steps on energy. They just don’t know what to do about it. The conversation on the radio last night meandered into strategy and everyone agreed that this was terrible timing on Obama’s part. Why would he want to pick a fight with his caucus right after such a bloody battle to get health care passed, they asked. Why indeed. Perhaps he’s not expecting one and probably won’t have too much trouble bringing most of the Dems around. The details of the announcement are too innocuous. A few meetings to explain just how unlikely real drilling is, not to mention how far in the future if any did occur, might persuade Democrats to push the message, calling out Republicans. Big Oil had 8 years to do as it pleased with W. and Dick running the show and they didn’t. I wonder why that is?

In the end, opening up coastal waters to Big Oil is shrewd in its simplicity. It’s not merely about taking a core platform away from the GOP, it’s sideswiping them in a push towards sensible energy policy. I would expect more push and pull before we see a climate bill passed. Just like the health care bill, it will be weak tea. But, also like the health care bill, it’s a foot in the door. As conservatives trip over themselves trying to decide if they love or hate the policies that they supported not even a month ago, we’ll be closer than ever towards sensible long term energy plans.


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