Barack Obama has proven himself slippery on oil for the second time in his campaign. In April, he accused his opponents of taking money from oil lobbies, when in fact Obama himself not only did the same thing but had oil executives as major bundlers to his campaign. Now he’s reversed himself on drilling, and he did it in a remarkable place — Florida:
U.S. Sen. Barack Obama said today he would be willing to open Florida’s coast for more oil drilling if it meant winning approval for broad energy changes.
“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.
Of course, this comes shortly after Obama called off-shore drilling “the latest scheme”, telling his supporters that drilling wouldn’t solve anything. How shortly? 48 hours! Here’s Obama in Springfield, Missouri, insisting that drilling wouldn’t work:
Now the latest scheme is well, we’re going to drill offshore. Now, I want to be absolutely clear to everybody about this. If I thought that I could provide you some immediate relief on gas prices by drilling off the shores of California and New Jersey, I – I … I understand how desperate folks are. I met a guy who couldn’t go on a job search that lost his job, couldn’t go on a job search because of the high price of gas. Just couldn’t fill up his tank. I met a teacher in South Dakota who loved her job as a teacher on an Indian reservation, she had to quit because the drive was too far, it was taking up too much of her paycheck. I know how bad people are hurting. So If I thought that by drilling offshore, we could solve our problem, I’d do it.
So what happened in the following 48 hours to convince Obama to drill? He probably looked at the polls, especially in Florida. The Sunshine State had fiercely opposed off-shore drilling for decades, and would normally be a safe place to rail against Big Oil and talk about alternative energy sources. Not any longer, though; 60% of Floridians now support off-shore drilling, ten percent of whom acknowledge that their position has changed with the rise in gas prices.
The 48-hour flip-flop also arrives with a rebellion in the Senate Democratic caucus on drilling. The Gang of 10 threatens to undermine not only the leadership of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, but also the policy stand of Obama in the presidential election. Their compromise proposal to open certain areas of the Atlantic seaboard and the eastern Gulf of Mexico threatened to put Obama on the fringe of his own party on drilling. He had little choice but to eat his words from Springfield on the stage in St Petersburg.
Obama once again reveals himself as a traditional politician, one that will swing like a weathervane in order to get elected. The only quality remarkable about Obama is his shamelessness in policy reversals, expecting everyone to ignore his obvious change in stance as Obama pretends that he has always supported what he used to oppose. It’s more than vaguely Orwellian, and without any real track record, it should make voters across the spectrum wonder what Obama would do once in power.