Putting pressure on congressional Democrats to back more exploration for oil, President Bush on Monday lifted an executive ban on offshore drilling that has stood since his father was president. But the move, by itself, will do nothing unless Congress acts as well.No Karl Rove needed to figure this one out--Congress has some pesky options ahead.
They can try to shelve this issue while cloaking it with idiotic and childish rhetoric ("once again, the oilman in the White House is echoing the demands of Big Oil,"-- said the Speaker of the US House) something not likely to sit well with those paying 50+ bucks a fill-up, especially if oil continues to rise. Even with a friendly MSM at their sides to explain things such a course resembles a rowboat nearing the edge of Niagara Falls.
Or, they can vote against easing the ban and maintain their environmental stand, despite recent polls showing a 2-1 margin in favor of more domestic drilling. Again, not very popular, especially if oil prices continue to rise. It'll be particularly ticklish for the Reps and Senators going back to their districts and holding town hall meetings. There's only so far they can take "Bush is a mean oil man" before people start yelling "yeah? what are you morons doing to fix it?"
Forcing a vote also forces Senator Obama to take a stand. He will not be able to run away and hide when votes are cast on such a major issue knowing McCain will be there will bells on. But what to do? If he votes against the environmentalists and the party base he'll invite even more wrath from a faithful already mad as fire about FISA and the lack of an impeachment. Not only that, it will be a colossal flip-flop and something repeated like Groundhog Day in every GOP commercial down the stretch.
But, if he stays with principle and party he'll risk appearing an ineffectual elitist puffer, someone more concerned about Seagulls than the common man. Barack doesn't need any more setbacks with the Joe Sixpack crowd. Those very same people hold the key to his victory.
He may try to appear sympathetic while at the same time retreating into boilerplate, ie, having it both ways. This quote seems to suggest it:
"If offshore drilling would provide short-term relief at the pump or a long-term strategy for energy independence, it would be worthy of our consideration, regardless of the risks," spokesman Bill Burton said in a statement. "But most experts, even within the Bush administration, concede it would do neither. It would merely prolong the failed energy policies we have seen from Washington for thirty years."In other words, opening up more land for drilling is a "failed policy" with oil at 150 dollars per barrel because the results won't come in for a few years, but counting on the technology fairy to deliver cheaper and cleaner technology overnight is brilliantly superior. Good luck with that before an election. But dang, if anyone can pull it off it might be Obama.
We're forgetting one wild card--the woman yet to release her delegates. The woman whose rapid supporters are calling for a floor vote at the Convention. The one who could step up and appear decisive here. That woman. Hmm, maybe it's time for team Obama to manufacture another diversion. Reverend Sharpton, you're up!