The brilliant strategy behind Obama’s conservative energy policy
One of the reasons I don’t take most critics of Obama all that seriously is that he has run, in many ways – and even with a major progressive victory under his belt with healthcare reform – a fairly conservative administration in terms of foreign policy but also some domestic policy. Take this post from Ezra Klein:
“I think the term ‘cap and trade’ is not in the lexicon anymore,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said on CNBC this morning. Oh, and he said it while announcing that the Obama administration was opening new areas up to offshore oil drilling. This follows the decision to massively expand loan guarantees for nuclear plants. As far as anyone can tell, these concessions to conservative ideas on energy have not attracted Republican allies for the administration’s preferences on energy, and in fact, the center of this issue seems to be moving rapidly to the right.
There may be some brilliant strategy underlying all this, but no one in the administration has seen fit to explain what it is. I’d guess it’s that they can say, and show, they’re reaching out on the issue, but making these moves when the public isn’t paying attention to energy policy seems of questionable relevance to perceptions of partisanship when the debate eventually takes off. [emphasis added, EDK]
First off, Ezra is right to note that even these ostensibly conservative-friendly policies have not – and likely will not – earn Obama many Republican supporters. C’est la vie. Obama must realize by now that this is the case, and so he must not be doing this to earn conservative support.
So what is his brilliant strategy? And why do people on the left keep questioning it, even though time and again Obama is right?
I imagine the brilliant strategy in question is Obama facing reality and realizing that we are years and years away from developing – let alone implementing – a viable alternative energy solution in this country and we’d better find a way to get us to that point without relying as heavily on foreign oil producers. Whether that means increased drilling or some other way to make use of the fossil fuels available to us in order to develop the technologies of the future is the question we need to ask. Not a terribly riveting explanation, I know, but it makes sense. Increased nuclear energy production fits into the same game plan.
And unlike punitive measures such as cap and trade, more energy exploration (while at the same time working to develop better alternatives for the future) is a positive effort which might actually be good for the economy rather than a burden.
In other words, Obama is being smart as usual, and this won’t gain him friends on the right and will earn him plenty of exasperated sighs on the left as usual.