April 29, 2010

Drill, baby dri--... oh s#@$.

President Obama has been on a roll lately.

He scored a big win on health care reform, showing a nasty crossover dribble against Republicans in the process.  He's put his stamp on the Supreme Court and gets another opportunity before summer's end.  He's even sounding more presidential: after declaring he wants a Wall Street reform bill, he vowed to veto one that doesn't include restrictions on derivatives, a bit of welcome political flexing.

Got that, Harry? 

And then, there's this.  Which came less than a month after this.

The president's decision to study lifting the moratorium on offshore US drilling is fast becoming a rare discordant note in what had been Obama's virtuoso performance this spring.  It's led some pundits to shake their heads and wonder why the president went there in the first place.

It angered Democrats on the left, who got pissed that a man who seemed to have a broad, bold, common-sense vision on how green energy could remake the US economy.  And if it was designed as a light, sweet, black-gold bouquet to woo obstinate Republicans on an energy-climate bill, ... well, that sure worked out well.

Given what could become the biggest oil disaster in US history -- bigger than even the Exxon Valdez accident from the 1980s, and a catastrophe that gets worse, literally, by the minute -- Obama has wisely declared that the accident will become "part of the conversation" on lifting the drilling ban.

But he could have been ahead of the curve if this one stayed in his hip pocket back in March.

The Gulf rig explosion and the so far uncontrollable oil leak -- one that is poised to cause damage that could take decades to reverse -- would have been a ready-made, easy-to-understand argument for keeping the drilling ban in place.  It could also have served as a withering rebuttal to the "drill, baby, drill" nonsense from Republicans, as well as been an object lesson to jump-start global warming legislation and bring Senator Lindsay Graham back to the table.

But for lack of a crystal ball, the president will take a left hook, so to speak, on the chin, though he's proved adept and able to roll with the punches.

Nevertheless, sometimes the best move is to not make one in the first place.

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