Enough already with the "Obama flips-flops on offshore drilling"! You can really tell when the news networks need a lead story: They simply leave out some salient details and allow their talking heads to spin. If you haven't seen the original interview that appeared in The Palm Beach Post, here's the most important bit:
"My interest is in making sure we've got the kind of comprehensive energy policy that can bring down gas prices," Obama said in an interview with The Palm Beach Post.
"If, in order to get that passed, we have to compromise in terms of a careful, well thought-out drilling strategy that was carefully circumscribed to avoid significant environmental damage - I don't want to be so rigid that we can't get something done," Obama said.
If there's any question on his position, consider this:
After speaking to a capacity crowd at Gibbs High School auditorium in St. Petersburg, he told the Post he would be open to expanding the current drilling boundaries if it meant winning approval for more fuel-efficient cars, developing alternative energy sources and making the country more "energy independent."
"I think it's important for the American people to understand we're not going to drill our way out of this problem," he said.
Obama isn't guilty of flip-flopping, he's guilty of being a reasonable human being who is aware of certain political realities. And you can be damn sure that if he dug in his heels over this they'd be painting him as some kind of eco-extremist who hates America and who can't relate to the average citizen (not that they aren't going down that path anyway).
Granted, expanded offshore drilling is a dumb idea. Just take a look at the report from the DOE's Energy Information Agency:
The projections in the OCS access case indicate that access to the Pacific, Atlantic, and eastern Gulf regions would not have a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030.
Because oil prices are determined on the international market, however, any impact on average wellhead prices is expected to be insignificant.
Although a significant volume of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil and natural gas resources is added in the OCS access case, conversion of those resources to production would require both time and money. In addition, the average field size in the Pacific and Atlantic regions tends to be smaller than the average in the Gulf of Mexico, implying that a significant portion of the additional resource would not be economically attractive to develop at the reference case prices.
So Obama says the offshore drilling idea is dumb, but he's willing to go along with it under certain conditions and if he gets the stuff that's smart. Now, there are certain things that you should never, ever compromise on; things like freedom of speech, habeas corpus, not torturing people, etc. You know, the kind of things Bush and his pals (and McSame) seem to like. This isn't one of those things, but I'm sad to say that no matter what Obama chooses to say on a topic like this, the agents of regression will still paint him negative in hopes of shaking loose a few people on the fence and demoralizing tentative supporters.
Ultimately, I am saddened, though not surprised, that the news media seem utterly incapable of doing even a modicum of research on this and similar topics. Not once during the initial reports that I watched on CNN was there any mention of the EIA report quoted above. Reporting in that vein would go a long way to increasing public understanding of issues. It would also raise the level of discourse and reduce the level of controversy. The cynic in me sees that without controversy, the story is greatly reduced, and hence, no desire to do so on the part of the media.
After all, who'd be glued to their TV if the big headline was "Obama willing to accept reasonable compromise in order to reach large, over-arching energy policy"?
In none of the reporting that I have seen on this issue since the conservatives went back to put pressure on coastal drilling have I seen the report from the EIA even mentioned. No wonder 70% of Americans want to lift the moratorium off the Atlantic Coast. They think it will bring the price down now, while they are still making payments on their Hummer Behemoths.
"Granted, expanded offshore drilling is a dumb idea."
Not if you are an oil executive.
What is discouraging is that about as many Americans believe that this offshore drilling will lower oil prices as believed that Sadam Hussein was responsible for 9/11. I bet they are the same people too.