Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I Had A Feeling This Was Going On

Why oh why would Obama allow offshore drilling? An email published in The Washington Monthly reinforces the unstated theme of this blog.

Obama preempts the other side's most resonant arguments, which forces them to come up with more and more extreme claims in order to differentiate themselves. In the end, he occupies the reasonable middle ground and his opponents are Palinized. ...(I understand that the term "middle ground" is very slippery and dangerous here, but I basically use it to mean policies that, before the great crazy of 2009 had broad consensus support from large portions of both parties and the Broder/Friedman/Brooks axis.)

At the same time, the policy is a tailored, measured version of what the Republicans have urged -- so, yes, the headline is, 'Obama Allows New Offshore Drilling/Presses For Energy Independence,' but at the same time, California/Oregon/Washington where opposition is strongest isn't included, and there are environmentally-friendly changes to Alaska leasing policy announced at the same time. And again, as we've seen before, Republicans are sort of forced to twist and parse, and even to oppose things they have long supported, just because the Administration hasn't gone far enough.

Finally, by announcing the drilling policy without seeking to extract concessions, the Administration makes clear that it is their policy and they are the centrist/flexible/pragmatic ones -- making it harder for Republicans to argue that they accomplished this or that they forced Obama to do it. [...]

[O]f course, if there was any reason to believe that Republicans would engage in normal negotiation/compromise, then I see why holding this back and trading it for support of a broader package would make sense. But does anyone really think there are Republicans to negotiate with on this stuff? And if Republicans do come to the table, Obama still has plenty of room to give, including by simply agreeing to sign a law that makes proposals like this a matter of statute, not executive discretion.
I have been documenting this crazy "opposition no matter what" strategy for years now, and I'm starting to see how it's going to play out. Look for ads this fall saying, "Republican candidate X voted against tax cuts and jobs, and he said (positive sympathetic statement) in support of insurance companies and bank fat cats. This fall, vote for Democrat candidate X." Of course, Republican candidate X doesn't stand a chance because he's fighting off Tea Party candidate X-1.

Haha! You guys should have listened to Frum!

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