Then there are his political tricksies: a bait-and-switch effort to get Republicans on board his “climate change” express. Since there are GOP members in the Senate who actually want to be taken in by this transparent tomfoolery and vote for some kind of cap-and-trade bill, the likelihood that he can peel off enough Republicans to avoid a filibuster on his energy bill is now pretty good.
Of course, it takes a subtle intelligence to advocate expanding fossil fuel production while passing a law that will destroy the industries responsible for producing it. But Congress does this kind of thing all the time — national health insurance reform being a recent example — so the disconnect is only apparent if you choose not to think like a politician.
For the Republicans, this announcement is not good news at all. They will rightly criticize the proposal as too little, too late. But who pays attention to details? The president will be able to come back and point to the GOP being “obstructionist” and hypocrites for not backing their own ideas. “They wanted to drill and when I give them that, they still oppose me,” the president will say. He does this kind of fake exasperation very well, as evidenced by his complaints about the GOP not offering any alternatives on health care when three different plans were sitting in the congressional hopper gathering dust because the Democrats refused even to read them.
Minority Leader John Boehner appeared to play the president’s game by sounding more petulant than usual:
It’s long past time for this administration to stop delaying American energy production off all our shores and start listening to the American people who want an “all of the above” strategy to produce more American energy and create more jobs. …
Republicans are listening to the American people and have proposed a better solution — the American Energy Act — which will lower gas prices, increase American energy production, promote new clean and renewable sources of energy, and encourage greater efficiency and conservation.
Like the GOP’s efforts with health care reform, their energy bill has been languishing at the bottom of the legislative pile for months. No doubt the president and the Democrats will accuse the Republicans of not offering any alternatives and try to ram cap and tax through the senate. On this issue, the GOP is not as united as they were on health care reform, as several senators are working with the Democrats to craft a compromise bill. Whether they will meet with any more success than those Republican senators who huddled with Finance Chairman Max Baucus in trying to draft a health insurance reform bill for many weeks is an open question.
While the president’s allies on the left are wringing their hands over this “concession” to centrists and those Republicans predisposed to vote for cap and trade, they really needn’t worry. There are enough holes in this proposal for offshore drilling that it should be declared an environmental hazard, and a clean-up crew should be dispatched to deal with the mess he’s made of the issue.