March 31, 2010

Drill, baby, drill? Yes we can!

Today, President Obama will announce that he will allow energy companies to drill for oil off the east coast of the US, in what looks like another attempt at moderation, and perhaps some outreach to Republicans.

The move is a bit of a surprise, given the assumption that in 2008, then-candidate Obama rejected allowing oil companies to start putting holes in the ocean floor near the US coastline, arguing that would not immediately solve American dependency on foreign oil.  In fact, his stance was a lot more nuanced, but the subtleties were lost in the din of the Republicans' energy rallying cry during the 2008 presidential campaign: "Drill, baby, drill!"

Obama's move no doubt will anger progressives and many in the Democratic base, many of whom are already seething at having to settle for half-loafs from a man who ran on an agenda of hope and sweeping change, according to a Yahoo! News report:

Obama's proposal -- geared towards reducing foreign oil dependence and profit from selling offshore leases -- could bring the White House much needed Republican support for landmark energy and climate change legislation it has in the works.

 Upon closer inspection, however, the president's gesture to big oil comes with some strings attached -- you have to go pretty deep into the LAT's report to see them --  and won't start for several more years after a whole lot of study.  Hopefully, in the meantime, the White House's initiative to jump-start the nation's green energy revolution will have started by then, so offshore drilling presumably wouldn't be a very huge deal.

Nonetheless, today's announcement provides a meta-moment: the "drill, baby, drill" chant was proffered a the 2008 RNC convention in St. Paul by one Michael Steele, the bling-slingin', 'hood-talkin' African American RNC chairman, who is now embroiled in a scandal that will damage his party and has the potential to wreck his chairmanship.

Then again, maybe not.

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