President Obama has been arguing that if he had tried to regulate the oil industry before the BP disaster, it would have gone nowhere and Republicans would have pissed and moaned about oppressive regulations:
In an interview with POLITICO, the president said: “I think it’s fair to say, if six months ago, before this spill had happened, I had gone up to Congress and I had said we need to crack down a lot harder on oil companies and we need to spend more money on technology to respond in case of a catastrophic spill, there are folks up there, who will not be named, who would have said this is classic, big-government overregulation and wasteful spending.”
And can anyone seriously disagree with his analysis? Imagine if, before the April 20 explosion, the White House had announced its desire to expand government regulation of the oil industry, impose new safety and emergency mandates, and spend taxpayer money on equipment and technology. Is there any doubt what we’d hear from Republicans, their lobbyist allies, and the media that’s been trained to be on the lookout for “big government”?
But these comments illustrate perfectly why the Democrats and ‘progressives’ are always playing catch up, why they are always one step behind.
Imagine if one year ago, Obama had proposed strict drilling regulations*. He’s probably right: the legislative effort would have gone nowhere.
At that time.
But, in this scenario, he would have had the perfect opportunity–or crisis–to push this legislation. Not only that, he and other Democrats, rather than arguing “Republicans would have opposed this”, could be concretely claiming “Republicans did oppose this.” He could have said, “If they had listened to Democrats, we probably wouldn’t be in this mess.”
Instead, polling now suggests Obama owns this shit.
This is something that the too-smart-for-their-own-good Democratic political operatives and their progressive apologists always fail to understand: you have to create your own opportunities for good politics. If you think a policy is a good one, that many people will like the outcome, then fight for it. If the policy is truly needed and you lose, don’t worry, circumstances will eventually come around to support your position. And now you’ve laid the groundwork and established a good narrative (TEH EVUL OBSTRUKSHUNITZ!!), both of which are needed to successfully pass the legislation.
This is a self-inflicted wound, and one most professional Democrats don’t even realize has happened.
*It’s not clear to me that Obama actually gives a shit about this issue, but that’s what consistently repudiating your own party’s rank-and-file will get you, I suppose.