Obama’s Cynical Drilling Drive

May 16th, 2011 at 4:45 pm | 20 Comments |

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What President Obama’s Saturday radio address should have said:

“My fellow Americans. Today, I am directing the Department of the Interior to conduct annual lease sales in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.

“This is a transparently political move. My order will not reduce gasoline prices this year or next year. However, if you believe that my action today will help lower gasoline prices, your misplaced belief might improve my chances for re-election next year. That’s important.

“Just so you know, gasoline prices are a function of crude oil prices, which are set in a worldwide market. Even if additional oil from northern Alaska came on the market this year – which it won’t – it wouldn’t add enough supply to the global market to drive prices down significantly.

“You should also know that oil companies producing new oil from Alaska will not give Americans a discount because I was kind enough to order up more production in America. They will sell that oil at the world price. That world price will largely determine the price of gasoline that you pay. If rising Chinese demand causes the world oil price to rise, gasoline prices will rise also. That’s just tough cookies, folks.

“My Republican friends in Congress will probably dismiss my transparently political move as too little, too late. That’s OK, but I would ask them to acknowledge that they too are trying to hoodwink the voters with glib statements that more domestic drilling is an easy answer to high gasoline prices.

“Oil dependence is a strategic liability. As long as we’re heavily dependent on oil, our economy will be vulnerable to price spikes and our security will be at risk. However, Congress and I are not likely to do much about this until after the next election, or after the  following election. Hey, that’s just politics.

“Meanwhile, I hope you have great vacation plans for summer. Better budget more money to keep your gas tank filled. There is nothing that I or Congress can do this year to help you. Thanks for listening.”


Recent Posts by Jim DiPeso



20 Comments so far ↓

  • Watusie

    Oh look, it is one of FF’s favorite rhetorical constructions – inventing a preposterous speech for someone.

    Jim DiPeso, I hate to break it to you, but the Obama Administration has been granting drilling and exploration permits at a fair old clip for quite some time now. So, either you are being cynical when you say they are being cynical, or you are so horribly misinformed that you aren’t really qualified to comment on this subject.

    So which is it?

    If you need some help with your homework, you could do worse that Poltifact’s relentless beatdown of Michele Bachmann’s outright lies on this topic.
    http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2011/mar/29/michele-bachmann/michele-bachmann-claims-there-has-been-just-one-ne/

  • balconesfault

    I don’t think Obama was being cynical – after all, he specifically said during his speech that this wasn’t going to immediately lower oil prices.

    What Obama was doing was political. He was giving his opposition something they’ve been demanding. For some reason, the President doesn’t seem to see every political battle as a black/white win/loss on some existential scale. Instead, he seems willing to concede to his opponents on points that he doesn’t consider completely a disaster (note that he didn’t talk about opening ANWR to drilling) in order to keep the dialogue moving, and to undercut places where they’d attack him.

    Now – as for the GOP – that they can’t say “thank you”, and instead attack Obama for being cynical when he concedes a point, that’s a particular pathology that I don’t think he can solve.

  • Otto

    What’s this? (R)s have been criticizing the POTUS about opening up more domestic drilling and once he actually does this, we get to see some (R) shill that David Frum uses for articles writing a criticism of the POTUS opening up more domestic drilling?

    Anyone want to take bets this becomes the newest criticism The Echo Chamber tries to use against the POTUS?

  • SteveThompson

    The United States Geological Survey recently downgraded the potential recoverable oil reserves in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska from 10 billion barrels to just under 900 million barrels, an amount that is basically insignificant considering that it will supply the U.S. for all of one and a half months at their current consumption rate.

    Here is an article showing what happened to the oil in the NPR-A:

    http://viableopposition.blogspot.com/2011/01/national-petroleum-reserve-in-alaska.html

    Perhaps that is what has changed Obama’s mind.

  • balconesfault

    I don’t think DiPeso wanted to expand drilling.

    That said, I’m not sure how DiPeso can look in the mirror after calling Obama cynical. Because DiPeso clearly cares about the environment, but he continues to support a party that is moving farther and farther away from him on that issue with each cycle. Every GOP politician DiPeso cites as evidence of GOP tends to be from 30 years ago.

    I’m not sure if DiPeso just really hates reproductive freedom. Or if he has an anti-tax fetish. Or if he’s against social spending. Or if he just really wants the biggest military we will ever be willing to pay for. Certainly he isn’t in the GOP because they’ve given him anything to cheer for on the environmental front since, oh, 1991.

    But it does seem unseemly for him to be turning his guns on Obama, since by weakening Obama he only ensures that his chosen agenda will become even more marginalized.

  • Rob_654

    Drill, Don’t Drill, it doesn’t really matter to me – it won’t cut oil prices – Obama is playing the political game – but the real folks to go after are the Republicans who have been pounding this drum for decades.

    Of course the humor is that Obama says let’s open some drilling and the Conservatives attack him for it.

    Let’s be honest here – Obama can do nothing that that Conservatives won’t attack him on.

    Its almost like Obama is just playing with the Conservatives – he knows that the they will attack him no matter what and that the Middle of the country looks at he Republicans with disgust with their knee-jerk reactions to everything he does.

  • rbottoms

    OMG.

    Obama has decided to feed stupid GOP voters some symbolism. Someone re-animate Edward R. Morrow’s zombie corpse. Next he’ll visit a flag factory or something.

    Oh the humanity.

  • zephae

    ““My Republican friends in Congress will probably dismiss my transparently political move as too little, too late. That’s OK, but I would ask them to acknowledge that they too are trying to hoodwink the voters with glib statements that more domestic drilling is an easy answer to high gasoline prices.”

    Exactly. It seems to me that what Obama is doing right now is trying to systematically eliminate as many minor, insignificant cudule arguments that could be used against him during the campaign so the fight will be squarely on the economy and issues of substance. Osama’s death immunizied him from attacks on Nat’l Security grounds. He’s discredited the birthers as far as you can. Now he’s going after “Drill, baby, Drill”. I wonder what the Republicans will be left with by the time the season really starts.

  • valkayec

    Interestingly enough, this morning I rad a story, in WaPo I believe although I can no longer find it, in which three GOP representatives, including my own rep. Tom McClintock, have put forward a bill to eliminate any and all energy (natural gas, wind, solar – the works) subsidies except for oil.

    Mr. Dipeso, regardless of Obama’s political move, how will cutting off our collective noses on energy freedom and security to sustain the oil companies supposed to be smart policy? I know the GOP, as a matter of policy and election funding, refuses to admit to the threat of climate change, but are they now against freedom and security too?

  • ottovbvs

    You mean all that drill baby drill stuff from Republicans was BS Mr Di Peso….I’m shocked.

  • rbottoms

    Is Obama for it? Then Republicans are against it, screw national security and anything else that isn’t about getting that dusky Kenyan out on his ass.

  • sinz54

    Mr. DiPeso,

    There’s a couple more things that Obama should have said:

    “What are you Americans griping about? For years, we liberals have been insisting that the way to reduce oil consumption is by reducing demand via higher prices. Either by a carbon tax (as Al Gore wanted) or by a cap-and-trade policy that raises prices by capping supply.

    “We admire Europe for many reasons, among which is the much higher price of gasoline over there.

    “So we liberals, and our environmentalist supporters, like it when gasoline prices rise. It means that you gluttonous, wasteful Americans are going to have to tighten your belts.

    “Jimmy Carter tried very hard to get all you Americans to accept scarcity and austerity, as befits a nation in decline. I am proud to follow in his footsteps.”

    • balconesfault

      “Jimmy Carter tried very hard to get all you Americans to accept scarcity and austerity, as befits a nation in decline. I am proud to follow in his footsteps.”

      Hunter does the trolling thing much much better.

  • Watusie

    Sinz, do you get a sense of satisfaction from devising ridiculous strawmen? Does it fill the void that has been created in your psyche by Obama’s failure to fail and thereby make you happy?

    • balconesfault

      What’s sad is that Sinz is wholly incapable of realizing that had America followed Carter’s lead, embraced energy conservation, embraced new technologies for renewable power (remember the solar panels installed on the White House, which Reagan had removed almost immediately?), and increased taxes on oil … without a doubt we’d have a lower national debt, a much healthier balance of trade, our hand in the Middle East would be much stronger, and over the last few decades America would have been a global leader in developing and exporting renewable energy technologies, rather than an importer of technologies developed in Spain and Denmark and Germany.

      Sinz is just a fan of the Wizard of Oz.

  • John

    I thought this was a great article. I’m disappointed that Obama agreed to increased drilling because (i) he knows better than to accept/trumpet the bogus argument that it will drive gas prices down, and (ii) the political gains are likely to be offset by disappointment from people like me.

  • balconesfault

    he knows better than to accept/trumpet the bogus argument that it will drive gas prices down

    well, he certainly didn’t trumpet that argument. Nowhere in his speech does he say that the drilling will drive prices down.

    He did say “there are no quick fixes to the problem”.

    Personally, I think that the whole drilling pitch was a set up for his next point in his speech – his attack on tax subsidies for oil companies. It’s classic Obama – give something that the other side wants (more drilling) at the same time he pushes for something that his side wants (eliminate oil subsidies), and highlights what his administration has already been doing (“That’s why we’re investing in clean energy technology, helping businesses that manufacture solar panels and wind turbines, and making sure that our cars and trucks can go further on a tank of gas – a step that could save families as much as $3,000 at the pump.”)

    Now, if people would only listen to what Obama’s actually saying, instead of what pundits try to claim he’s saying, we might have a useful political dialogue in this country.

  • ScoopAway

    “I wonder what the Republicans will be left with by the time the season really starts.”

    Their favorites: abortion, PP, gay marriage, military spending, no taxes, oil subsidies, torture…

    “Sinz is just a fan of the Wizard of Oz.”

    I think you mean the Wizard of Ooze. ;)