Don’t go changing

I’ve been arguing in favor of drilling in ANWR pretty much since I started writing for Power Line. Before that, I was urging my daughters to argue that side of the question at high school debate tournaments.

John McCain’s line that he doesn’t want to drill in the Grand Canyon or in ANWR (both are “pristine,” you see) is perhaps the most egregious of the various non-sequiturs he’s come up with over the years (see also, the torture used by the North Vietnamese didn’t work on me therefore the CIA’s rough interrogation tactics don’t work). It’s the kind of thinking that gives ideology a good name.

Nonetheless, I hope that McCain continues to oppose drilling in ANWR. For, in my view, McCain cannot win this election unless he (a) maintains his reputation as a straight-shooting man of principle and (b) maintains his distance from President Bush. If McCain were to reverse himself on drilling in ANWR, he would be tarred as a flip-flopper bowing to conservative pressure and marching increasingly with Bush. The Democrats’ “McSame” mantra, already succeeding to some degree, would gain more traction. The McCain brand would suffer a serious blow.

Fortunately, McCain can differentiate himself from Obama on energy issues without changing his position on ANWR. For example, he can (and is) arguing in favor of off-shore drilling and nuclear power. Tapping into ANWR can wait for another day or perhaps another president.

JOHN agrees: My guess is that by November, McCain will be advocating drilling pretty much everywhere on earth except ANWR, one of the most desolate, God-forsaken places imaginable. That’s OK, though. “Drill almost everywhere” easily beats “drill nowhere.”

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