Sunday, May 02, 2010

Palin: "Drill Here, Drill Now"

A few days ago, I wondered
how the Republicans, who have gone out of their way to brand themselves the party of "Drill, Baby, Drill", are going to manage the public-relations challenge posed by this accident--which appears likely to turn into a significant environmental and economic disaster.
Whatever effect this disaster in the Gulf of Mexico does or doesn't have on their practical policy agendas, it seems clear that their propaganda will have to be adjusted, and a lot of Republicans will now be trying to pretend that they never favored unrestricted drilling in the first place.
New slogans and talking-points are no doubt being crafted behind the scenes, and I suspect we'll be hearing the phrase "Drill, Baby, Drill" a little less frequently.

On the other hand, I may be wrong about that last point, since by now it is well established that Sarah Palin's sloganeering is largely unaffected by empirical reality, or by the kinds of embarrassments that affect most politicians. [....] So we may get a chance to see how fully that applies to the rest of the Republican Party, too.
=> Well, as far as Sarah Palin is concerned, we already have the answer: She continues to repeat the same slogan, in a slightly modified version she's used before, without embarrassment or second thoughts:
I repeat the slogan “drill here, drill now” not out of naiveté or disregard for the tragic consequences of oil spills – my family and my state and I know firsthand those consequences. How could I still believe in drilling America’s domestic supply of energy after having seen the devastation of the Exxon-Valdez spill? I continue to believe in it because increased domestic oil production will make us a more secure, prosperous, and peaceful nation.
(Increased domestic oil production will make us a more "peaceful" nation? If one takes that seriously as a factual claim, which of course is a mistake, none of the things it might mean seems very convincing.)

On the other hand, as far as I can tell, so far the rest of the Republicans seem to be keeping quiet about this subject, very quiet. It remains to be seen how they'll try to spin it.

=> Meanwhile, the Obama administration, which probably wishes it hadn't announced a policy of relaxing restrictions on offshore drilling a month ago, can learn its own lessons from this incident. Compromises, even painful and unpleasant ones, are often a necessary part of the process of legislative sausage-making. And the broadly moderate and centrist inclinations of this administration, which further encourage it to search for accommodations, are not always misplaced. But they can easily get carried too far--as Obama and his team eventually had to recognize themselves during the health care reform fight. Making pre-emptive concessions to the Republicans, and/or to powerful economic interests, in the hope of reaching accommodations and defusing potential conflicts may look tactically clever or 'responsible', but experience shows that in practice these pre-emptive concessions often blow up in your face. Make the compromises when you have to, not before.

--Jeff Weintraub

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