Two Small Steps Forward

John McCain and Barack Obama both made news today. McCain announced his support for lifting the moratorium on Outer Continental Shelf drilling. Here is what he had to say during a media availability in Virginia:

[R]ight now, as you know, there’s a moratorium, and those moratorium, in my view, moratoria have to be lifted. And they have to be lifted so that states can make those decisions.

I’m not dictating to the states that they drill or they engage in oil exploration. I am saying that the moratoria should be lifted so that they have the opportunity to do so. And, by the way, I would also like to see perhaps additional incentives to give the states, in the form of tangible financial rewards, if the states decide to lift those moratoriums.

Later, McCain explained that the “financial rewards” would be a larger cut of drilling profits than in the past. At the same time, McCain reiterated his opposition to drilling in ANWR. He has a long way to go on energy policy, but I believe he will give a speech on the subject tomorrow. We’ll see whether he has more to say.

Barack Obama, meanwhile, spoke with Iraq’s foreign minister on the telephone, and said that he “would like to” visit both Iraq and Afghanistan before the election. As I’ve written before, going to Iraq poses a delicate political problem for Obama. He will have no choice but to meet with commanding officers and GIs, and if he does so, he can hardly avoid acknowledging the success of the surge. On one hand, this could be an opportunity for Obama to work himself out of the hard-left position on Iraq that gained him the Democratic nomination. At the same time, he can’t admit that McCain was right along. So his approach will have to be, as they say in Washington, nuanced.

Today he at least began the process of coming to terms with the surge’s unexpected–to him–success, telling reporters that he is “encouraged … by the reductions in violence in Iraq.” Fortunately for Obama, he’ll never have to make that statement while hooked up to a lie detector machine.

So it was, in a very limited sense, a good day in both Presidential campaigns.

UPDATE: When it comes to drilling, we have a ways to go to catch up with the Brazilians. Fausta notes another mammoth Brazilian offshore strike.

Personally, I’d like to see the United States remain the number one economic power in the Western Hemisphere, but this is not foreordained. If Brazil’s Congress is smarter than ours, as it certainly is at the moment, we are at a huge disadvantage. It is said that democracies get the governments they deserve, which implies that Brazilians are smart enough to vote for prosperity, and Americans are not. We’ll have more data in November.

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