Why Did Obama Decide to Drill, Baby?

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I should have posted this yesterday, but I forgot. On Tuesday night, responding to President Obama’s decision to unilaterally open up new offshore drilling tracts, I asked, “Wouldn’t he be better off holding this stuff in reserve and negotiating it away in return for actual support, not just hoped-for support?” Well, it turns out that something of a consensus answer has formed about this.

Basically, it goes like this. Sure, Obama could have held out on offshore drilling and used it as a bargaining chip to get some Republican support for an overall climate plan. But no Republican would have made the deal anyway, so it wouldn’t have done any good. However, by doing it preemptively, Obama has (a) deprived them of an issue to sputter about this summer, (b) split their ranks, and (c) made himself look like a pretty reasonable guy to the general public. Long story short, this is mostly a long-term play for public opinion, not part of a short-term partisan negotiation.

I’m not sure if I buy this or not. But I just thought I should mention it since I asked the question in the first place.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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