Obama has abandoned his opposition to off-shore drilling, sort of. Here is what he now says:
If it [off-shore drilling] is part of an overarching package, then I am not going to be rigid in preventing an energy package that goes forward that is really thoughtful and is going to really solve the problem.
This is the same kind of post-modern political speak that characterizes Obama’s positions (and those of Democratic presidential candidates in the recent past) on key issues of foreign policy and war and peace. As I’ve written many times, when the default liberal position becomes too controversial, the quest becomes to move away from the merits of the issue per se, and find new layers, usually political ones, to talk about. Recall Bill Clinton on the first Iraq war: he said would have voted with the [pro-war] majority if the vote were close but thought that the minority had the better arguments. Or Obama on the surge: he would have voted against it even now that he knows it succeeded because at the time there was a need to change the political discussion. Here, Obama invokes the politics of an overall “energy package” in order gain room to maneuver.
Drilling for oil offshore is either a good idea or bad idea. If it’s a good idea, then there is no reason why lifting the ban needs to be “part of an overaching” “really thoughtful” energy package. If it’s a bad idea, then Obama should not consent to it, and certainly should not signal his willingness to do so.
But to Obama, in all likelihood, off-shore drilling is neither a good idea nor a bad idea; it’s just a suddenly thorny political issue.
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