Commentary Magazine


Topic: energy policy

Obama’s Energy Tour a Political Disaster

President Obama’s energy tour was supposed to placate public anger over rising gas prices, and show voters that the White House is taking their concerns seriously. Instead, the tour only ended up highlighting Obama’s dismal energy record, and gave Republicans ample opportunity to make their case to the media.

The reason is that Americans have heard these promises from Obama before, and know better than to expect results.

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President Obama’s energy tour was supposed to placate public anger over rising gas prices, and show voters that the White House is taking their concerns seriously. Instead, the tour only ended up highlighting Obama’s dismal energy record, and gave Republicans ample opportunity to make their case to the media.

The reason is that Americans have heard these promises from Obama before, and know better than to expect results.

“We cannot keep going from shock to trance on the issue of energy security, rushing to propose action when gas prices rise, then hitting the snooze button when they fall again,” Obama said in a major address last March. But apparently he can, and he did, because his administration squirmed out of making a decision on the Keystone XL months ago when gas prices weren’t a major concern, and is now trying to pretend it loves nothing more than drilling domestic oil.

If there was any way Obama could back out of his decision to kill the Keystone XL, he probably would. But at this point there’s not much he can do, short of acknowledging that his excuse for delaying the pipeline decision for another year was essentially a political stunt. So he’s out on the campaign trail giving ostentatious displays of support for the southern leg of the pipeline, which doesn’t even need the administration’s approval to begin with.

The charade isn’t even working with members of the president’s own party:

“I think it’s the most idiotic political move I’ve ever seen,” said Cardoza, who supports the pipeline. The California Democrat said the president needs to make a decision one way or another and stick to it.

If he’s going to build it, “do it, take your lumps, be done with it,” he added.

Cardoza said the latest maneuver amounts to “highlighting a waffle.”

“They don’t build statues to wafflers,” he said.

And Obama hasn’t just succeeded in aggravating Keystone XL supporters. He’s also managed to anger the pipeline’s opponents as well:

National Wildlife Federation President and CEO Larry Schweiger said the president had taken a “dangerous wrong turn on energy.”

“Rushing pipelines and drill rigs for rich oil executives will only delay the investments we need in renewable energy and create long-lasting damage to our waters and lands,” he said in a statement.

Obama thought he could walk the middle line on this issue by delaying the Keystone XL decision until after the election. Instead it looks like he might actually end up alienating both sides, which would be a pretty remarkable achievement.

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Did Oil Production Increase Under Obama?

One of the themes of President Obama’s energy tour this week is that oil production increased under his watch. Speaking in Boulder, Colorado, he claimed:

“We’re going to continue to produce oil and gas at a record pace,” he told one crowd.

The president first paid a visit to the largest solar plant of its kind in the country, in Boulder City, Nev., a city southeast of Las Vegas. The plant is home to nearly a million solar panels.

He blasted Republicans, who he says have favored oil companies over investments in alternative energy.

“The current members of the Flat Earth Society in Congress,” Mr. Obama said, “they would rather see us continue to provide $4 billion in tax subsidies, tax giveaways to the oil companies.”

Domestic oil production may have increased under Obama, but it has absolutely nothing to do with his policies.

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One of the themes of President Obama’s energy tour this week is that oil production increased under his watch. Speaking in Boulder, Colorado, he claimed:

“We’re going to continue to produce oil and gas at a record pace,” he told one crowd.

The president first paid a visit to the largest solar plant of its kind in the country, in Boulder City, Nev., a city southeast of Las Vegas. The plant is home to nearly a million solar panels.

He blasted Republicans, who he says have favored oil companies over investments in alternative energy.

“The current members of the Flat Earth Society in Congress,” Mr. Obama said, “they would rather see us continue to provide $4 billion in tax subsidies, tax giveaways to the oil companies.”

Domestic oil production may have increased under Obama, but it has absolutely nothing to do with his policies.

As the Washington Free Beacon reports today, just 4 percent of the total increase in domestic oil production occurred on federal land:

The study, prepared by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service (CRS), examined oil production on federal and non-federal land between 2007-2011. Approximately 96 percent of the total increase in domestic oil production occurred on non-federal land, CRS found.

Earlier this month, the Energy Information Administration reported that oil and natural gas production on federal land declined 40 percent over the past decade and 14 percent in 2011 alone.

So not only did almost all of the production take place on land beyond the Obama administration’s control, but it decreased significantly on land within his control.

It’s unclear whether Obama’s defense of his energy policies will be convincing to voters, or at least persuasive enough to mollify public anger over rising gas prices. But I wonder whether Obama’s doing himself any favors by referring to congressional Republicans in such antagonistic terms. Obviously Obama wasn’t going to be able to run on the post-partisan, civil discourse platform this time around. But he’s taking things to an extreme that seems politically unhelpful.

Acting frustrated by congressional Republicans, which Obama has done in the past, isn’t likely to turn off voters. But calling his political opponents “members of the Flat Earth Society” – has that even been funny since 1992? – just comes off as snarky and self-satisfied. He’s used it enough times in the last few days that it’s clearly intentional. But if Obama’s communication skills are as brilliant as his supporters believe, he should at least be able to explain his disagreement with Republicans without leaning on stale sarcastic insults as a crutch.

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Obama’s Useless Keystone Review

The good news is that President Obama will announce his plan to expedite the review process for the southern leg of the Keystone pipeline at a campaign stop in Cushing, Oklahoma. The bad news is that it will have absolutely no impact on the timeline for pipeline construction, which was already on track to begin as early as June:

TransCanada’s president of energy and oil pipelines, Alex Pourbaix, said in an interview March 6 that construction on the Cushing phase of Keystone could begin as soon as June. The company doesn’t expect the new review process to change that schedule, Cunha said yesterday. …

Since the Cushing phase doesn’t cross an international border, it doesn’t require permission from the U.S. Department of State and president, as the full project did. Nonetheless, the Obama administration immediately endorsed TransCanada’s Cushing plan and released a statement in February saying the White House will “take every step possible to expedite the necessary federal permits.”

So Obama is endorsing a portion of the Keystone pipeline that doesn’t even need his consent for construction, while refusing to approve the only part of the pipeline that actually needs State Department permission. In other words, he’s shuffling around a lot of papers and trying to make it look like he’s doing something.

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The good news is that President Obama will announce his plan to expedite the review process for the southern leg of the Keystone pipeline at a campaign stop in Cushing, Oklahoma. The bad news is that it will have absolutely no impact on the timeline for pipeline construction, which was already on track to begin as early as June:

TransCanada’s president of energy and oil pipelines, Alex Pourbaix, said in an interview March 6 that construction on the Cushing phase of Keystone could begin as soon as June. The company doesn’t expect the new review process to change that schedule, Cunha said yesterday. …

Since the Cushing phase doesn’t cross an international border, it doesn’t require permission from the U.S. Department of State and president, as the full project did. Nonetheless, the Obama administration immediately endorsed TransCanada’s Cushing plan and released a statement in February saying the White House will “take every step possible to expedite the necessary federal permits.”

So Obama is endorsing a portion of the Keystone pipeline that doesn’t even need his consent for construction, while refusing to approve the only part of the pipeline that actually needs State Department permission. In other words, he’s shuffling around a lot of papers and trying to make it look like he’s doing something.

It sounds like the only reason the southern portion of the Keystone pipeline is slated for construction so soon is because the Obama administration’s permission wasn’t necessary in the first place. Of course, now that rising gas prices are cutting into the president’s poll numbers, he’s gratuitously intervening in a project that was already progressing along nicely – and will no doubt try to claim credit for its speedy progress.

House Speaker John Boehner’s spokesman Brendan Buck said it best: “The approval needed for this leg of the project is so minor and routine that only a desperate administration would inject the president of the United States into the process. This is like the governor holding a press conference to renew my driver’s license — except this announcement still leaves American energy and jobs behind.”

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Weighing the Costs and Benefits of EPA Regulations

While Secretary of Energy Stephen Chu was giving himself an A- grade on gas prices, the White House was rolling out a new rule that would ostensibly require federal agencies to weigh the cumulative effects of energy regulations. It’s a laudable idea in theory, but then again, so was President Obama’s executive order to cut down on regulatory red tape last year. And apparently that was such a runaway success that the White House needed to announce another rule a year later intended to do basically the same thing:

Agencies now will consult stakeholders and the public on how a new rule might interact with existing rules — and whether, for example, a string of upcoming rules on one industry would create an undue burden. Officials will also consider the cumulative effects of rules in their cost-and-benefit analysis, a process that currently weighs the costs against the benefits of each individual rule.

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While Secretary of Energy Stephen Chu was giving himself an A- grade on gas prices, the White House was rolling out a new rule that would ostensibly require federal agencies to weigh the cumulative effects of energy regulations. It’s a laudable idea in theory, but then again, so was President Obama’s executive order to cut down on regulatory red tape last year. And apparently that was such a runaway success that the White House needed to announce another rule a year later intended to do basically the same thing:

Agencies now will consult stakeholders and the public on how a new rule might interact with existing rules — and whether, for example, a string of upcoming rules on one industry would create an undue burden. Officials will also consider the cumulative effects of rules in their cost-and-benefit analysis, a process that currently weighs the costs against the benefits of each individual rule.

If the White House was serious about weighing the cost-benefit of its energy regulations, it might want to take a look at some of the ways its EPA policies have impacted businesses during the past year. Take GenOn Energy, Inc., a company that was reportedly forced to shut down its energy plant in Ohio due to the financial burden of EPA regulations. Its dilemma was highlighted yesterday at a Senate hearing on the impact of Utility MACT, a new and exceptionally expensive regulation on coal plant emissions:

On February 29th of this year, GenOn Energy, Inc. announced that it would close the coal and fuel-oil fired electric generating plant in Avon Lake in 2015.  The Avon Lake Generating Station is capable of generating 734 megawatts,  providing baseload electric capacity and load-following capability to the grid, as well as essential peaking capacity and black start capability. This facility plays an important role in providing a reliable and affordable supply of electricity.

The reasons behind the closure are clear.  GenOn stated that the closure was a result of the rising costs associated with EPA’s regulations, and the fact that the overwhelming costs associated with complying with the rules could not be recovered by continuing to operate the facility.

It’s not just the closure of the facility that’s the problem. It’s also the loss of jobs, income taxes, property taxes, and energy generation along with it. This isn’t meant to diminish the real concerns over the environmental impacts of coal-fueled power plant emissions. But if the White House claims the benefit of these rules has to be weighed against the costs to communities, businesses and the economy, then it should explicitly address why it believes Utility MACT is worth these job losses and plant closures.

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Their Time Is Now

A.B. Stoddard of The Hill writes:

Even before Christine O’Donnell handily defeated Rep. Mike Castle (R-Del.) in an epic upset Tuesday night, the Tea Parties, all of them, had already won. No matter what happens in the midterm elections on Nov. 2, the Tea Party has moved the Democrats to the right and the Republicans even more so, and President Obama’s agenda is dead. …

What debuted in nationwide protests on April 15, 2009, has taken less than 18 months to become the current driving force in American politics. The Tea Party insurgency will not only cost Democrats dozens of seats in Congress, and likely their majority — it will define the coming GOP presidential nominating process, determine the direction of the GOP for years to come and threaten any remaining plans Obama has for sweeping reforms of education, energy policy or our immigration system.

One might add to that the unification of the Republican Party around economic issues, the further erosion of the national political parties, the intellectual and emotional crack-up of the left, and another hit to the credibility of the mainstream media, which ignored or sneered at the most important political development in a decade. But is it really fair to credit only the Tea Party?

Let’s be honest, without Barack Obama, there would be no Tea Party. The Tea Party rose up in opposition to Obamaism — the serial bailouts (which began in the Bush administration), the flood of red ink, ObamaCare, and the tone-deaf response of the former community organizer to complaints about it all. I would suggest that without Obama’s attempts to lay a New Foundation — the vast expansion of federal power shifting the U.S. closer to Western European economies — the Tea Party would never have emerged or taken hold.

It was the over-interpretation of an electoral mandate, a zealously liberal president, and the arrogance of one-party Democratic rule that spawned what Stoddard rightly suggests is the most interesting and unpredictable political movement of our time. And we are far from done. Election Day is the beginning and not the end. In January, I wrote, “The Tea Party folks seem to think their time is now.” It took just nine months for the mainstream media to agree.

A.B. Stoddard of The Hill writes:

Even before Christine O’Donnell handily defeated Rep. Mike Castle (R-Del.) in an epic upset Tuesday night, the Tea Parties, all of them, had already won. No matter what happens in the midterm elections on Nov. 2, the Tea Party has moved the Democrats to the right and the Republicans even more so, and President Obama’s agenda is dead. …

What debuted in nationwide protests on April 15, 2009, has taken less than 18 months to become the current driving force in American politics. The Tea Party insurgency will not only cost Democrats dozens of seats in Congress, and likely their majority — it will define the coming GOP presidential nominating process, determine the direction of the GOP for years to come and threaten any remaining plans Obama has for sweeping reforms of education, energy policy or our immigration system.

One might add to that the unification of the Republican Party around economic issues, the further erosion of the national political parties, the intellectual and emotional crack-up of the left, and another hit to the credibility of the mainstream media, which ignored or sneered at the most important political development in a decade. But is it really fair to credit only the Tea Party?

Let’s be honest, without Barack Obama, there would be no Tea Party. The Tea Party rose up in opposition to Obamaism — the serial bailouts (which began in the Bush administration), the flood of red ink, ObamaCare, and the tone-deaf response of the former community organizer to complaints about it all. I would suggest that without Obama’s attempts to lay a New Foundation — the vast expansion of federal power shifting the U.S. closer to Western European economies — the Tea Party would never have emerged or taken hold.

It was the over-interpretation of an electoral mandate, a zealously liberal president, and the arrogance of one-party Democratic rule that spawned what Stoddard rightly suggests is the most interesting and unpredictable political movement of our time. And we are far from done. Election Day is the beginning and not the end. In January, I wrote, “The Tea Party folks seem to think their time is now.” It took just nine months for the mainstream media to agree.

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The Budget Fudge

In a portion of last night’s speech that rankled many conservatives, Obama pointed the finger at defense spending as the cause of our fiscal woes: “We have spent over a trillion dollars at war, often financed by borrowing from overseas. This, in turn, has short-changed investments in our own people, and contributed to record deficits. For too long, we have put off tough decisions on everything from our manufacturing base to our energy policy to education reform.” This is hooey.

The Washington Post explains:

Federal domestic spending increased a record 16 percent to $3.2 trillion in 2009, the Census Bureau reported Tuesday, largely because of a boost in aid to the unemployed and the huge economic stimulus package enacted to rescue the sinking economy.

The rise in spending was the largest since the Census Bureau began compiling the data in 1983. The Washington region was among the biggest beneficiaries of the government’s spending.

With congressional elections looming this fall, the spike in federal spending has emerged as one of the nation’s most contentious political issues.

Many Republicans accuse President Obama and his Democratic allies of being reckless spenders who are harming the nation’s long-term economic prospects by inflating the deficit.

It doesn’t appear that defense spending is the problem:

Overall, the largest chunk of federal spending – about 46 percent of the $3.2 trillion – went to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, entitlement programs that are projected to swell as the population ages.

Pay for federal employees accounted for nearly $300 billion of the spending and nearly half of that went to the Defense Department payroll.

In July, Gary Schmitt debunked the idea that defense spending is driving our deficits:

Right now, Defense’s share of federal outlays—including those for Iraq and Afghanistan—is 18 percent.  That’s the same level it was at during the Clinton years.  In contrast, mandatory spending eats up some 56 percent of federal spending, while discretionary non-defense spending is 19 percent.  Core entitlement spending (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid) is now double that of defense. And while entitlement spending and debt service will continue to explode, the Pentagon’s share of federal spending will be shrinking to 15 percent within the next few years. While the Obama administration has already cut some $300 billion in defense programs, it has been spending nearly $800 billion to (supposedly) stimulate the economy.

This is yet another example of two Obama traits. First, he makes stuff up. Really, what he said last night is not remotely true no matter how you do the math. And second, he stretches the truth to sustain an ideological preference: he wants to spend more and more on domestic programs, so he’s anxious to trim as much from our defense budget as possible. And to do that, we can’t make open-ended commitments.

In a portion of last night’s speech that rankled many conservatives, Obama pointed the finger at defense spending as the cause of our fiscal woes: “We have spent over a trillion dollars at war, often financed by borrowing from overseas. This, in turn, has short-changed investments in our own people, and contributed to record deficits. For too long, we have put off tough decisions on everything from our manufacturing base to our energy policy to education reform.” This is hooey.

The Washington Post explains:

Federal domestic spending increased a record 16 percent to $3.2 trillion in 2009, the Census Bureau reported Tuesday, largely because of a boost in aid to the unemployed and the huge economic stimulus package enacted to rescue the sinking economy.

The rise in spending was the largest since the Census Bureau began compiling the data in 1983. The Washington region was among the biggest beneficiaries of the government’s spending.

With congressional elections looming this fall, the spike in federal spending has emerged as one of the nation’s most contentious political issues.

Many Republicans accuse President Obama and his Democratic allies of being reckless spenders who are harming the nation’s long-term economic prospects by inflating the deficit.

It doesn’t appear that defense spending is the problem:

Overall, the largest chunk of federal spending – about 46 percent of the $3.2 trillion – went to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, entitlement programs that are projected to swell as the population ages.

Pay for federal employees accounted for nearly $300 billion of the spending and nearly half of that went to the Defense Department payroll.

In July, Gary Schmitt debunked the idea that defense spending is driving our deficits:

Right now, Defense’s share of federal outlays—including those for Iraq and Afghanistan—is 18 percent.  That’s the same level it was at during the Clinton years.  In contrast, mandatory spending eats up some 56 percent of federal spending, while discretionary non-defense spending is 19 percent.  Core entitlement spending (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid) is now double that of defense. And while entitlement spending and debt service will continue to explode, the Pentagon’s share of federal spending will be shrinking to 15 percent within the next few years. While the Obama administration has already cut some $300 billion in defense programs, it has been spending nearly $800 billion to (supposedly) stimulate the economy.

This is yet another example of two Obama traits. First, he makes stuff up. Really, what he said last night is not remotely true no matter how you do the math. And second, he stretches the truth to sustain an ideological preference: he wants to spend more and more on domestic programs, so he’s anxious to trim as much from our defense budget as possible. And to do that, we can’t make open-ended commitments.

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Obama from the Oval Office

First, a visual observation: he looked scrawny and ill-at-ease at the large, empty desk. There were no funny hand gestures this time, as there was for the Oil Spill address. This speech did have some good moments, which I will start with.

First, he clearly debunked the notion that we are bugging out of Iraq:

Going forward, a transitional force of U.S. troops will remain in Iraq with a different mission: advising and assisting Iraq’s Security Forces; supporting Iraqi troops in targeted counter-terrorism missions; and protecting our civilians. Consistent with our agreement with the Iraqi government, all U.S. troops will leave by the end of next year. As our military draws down, our dedicated civilians — diplomats, aid workers, and advisors — are moving into the lead to support Iraq as it strengthens its government, resolves political disputes, resettles those displaced by war, and builds ties with the region and the world. And that is a message that Vice President Biden is delivering to the Iraqi people through his visit there today.

This new approach reflects our long-term partnership with Iraq — one based upon mutual interests, and mutual respect. Of course, violence will not end with our combat mission. Extremists will continue to set off bombs, attack Iraqi civilians and try to spark sectarian strife. But ultimately, these terrorists will fail to achieve their goals. Iraqis are a proud people. They have rejected sectarian war, and they have no interest in endless destruction. They understand that, in the end, only Iraqis can resolve their differences and police their streets. Only Iraqis can build a democracy within their borders. What America can do, and will do, is provide support for the Iraqi people as both a friend and a partner.

And he put forth a positive statement on the Afghanistan war:

As we speak, al Qaeda continues to plot against us, and its leadership remains anchored in the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan. We will disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda, while preventing Afghanistan from again serving as a base for terrorists. And because of our drawdown in Iraq, we are now able to apply the resources necessary to go on offense. In fact, over the last 19 months, nearly a dozen al Qaeda leaders –and hundreds of Al Qaeda’s extremist allies–have been killed or captured around the world.

Within Afghanistan, I have ordered the deployment of additional troops who — under the command of General David Petraeus — are fighting to break the Taliban’s momentum. As with the surge in Iraq, these forces will be in place for a limited time to provide space for the Afghans to build their capacity and secure their own future.

But those comments were, regrettably, far outweighed by a number of unhelpful, ungracious, and downright inaccurate moments.

First, in his recap and praise of George W. Bush’s administration, he never explained how it was that we succeeded in Iraq. It was of course that same surge that we are now using in Afghanistan. He said this about Bush:

This afternoon, I spoke to former President George W. Bush. It’s well known that he and I disagreed about the war from its outset. Yet no one could doubt President Bush’s support for our troops, or his love of country and commitment to our security. As I have said, there were patriots who supported this war, and patriots who opposed it. And all of us are united in appreciation for our servicemen and women, and our hope for Iraq’s future.

But Mr. President, Bush was not just a great guy — he was right. It was one more instance of the lack of introspection and grace that has characterized Obama’s entire presidency.

Next, he reiterated the Afghanistan deadline, trying to fuzz it up rather than revoke it:

[A]s was the case in Iraq, we cannot do for Afghans what they must ultimately do for themselves. That’s why we are training Afghan Security Forces and supporting a political resolution to Afghanistan’s problems. And, next July, we will begin a transition to Afghan responsibility. The pace of our troop reductions will be determined by conditions on the ground, and our support for Afghanistan will endure. But make no mistake: this transition will begin — because open-ended war serves neither our interests nor the Afghan people’s.

You see, Obama’s not into open-ended commitment. This is the same counterproductive claptrap that has been roundly criticized and that reveals him to be fundamentally disinterested in foreign policy. It is also why both friends and enemies doubt our staying power.

But most of all, the bulk of the speech had nothing to do with either Iraq or Afghanistan — it was a pep talk for his domestic agenda. This cements the sense that he simply wants out of messy foreign commitments. He also repeated a number of domestic policy canards. This was among the worst, blaming our debt on wars rather than on domestic fiscal gluttony: “We have spent over a trillion dollars at war, often financed by borrowing from overseas. This, in turn, has short-changed investments in our own people, and contributed to record deficits. For too long, we have put off tough decisions on everything from our manufacturing base to our energy policy to education reform.”

He is arguing for more spending.

Obama is still candidate Obama, never tiring of reminding us that he kept his campaign pledge and ever eager to push aside foreign policy challenges so he can get on with the business of remaking America. All in all, it was what we were promised it would not be — self-serving, disingenuous, ungracious, and unreassuring.

UPDATE: COMMENTARY contributor Jonah Goldberg’s smart take is here.

UPDATE II: Charles Krauthammer’s reaction is here.

First, a visual observation: he looked scrawny and ill-at-ease at the large, empty desk. There were no funny hand gestures this time, as there was for the Oil Spill address. This speech did have some good moments, which I will start with.

First, he clearly debunked the notion that we are bugging out of Iraq:

Going forward, a transitional force of U.S. troops will remain in Iraq with a different mission: advising and assisting Iraq’s Security Forces; supporting Iraqi troops in targeted counter-terrorism missions; and protecting our civilians. Consistent with our agreement with the Iraqi government, all U.S. troops will leave by the end of next year. As our military draws down, our dedicated civilians — diplomats, aid workers, and advisors — are moving into the lead to support Iraq as it strengthens its government, resolves political disputes, resettles those displaced by war, and builds ties with the region and the world. And that is a message that Vice President Biden is delivering to the Iraqi people through his visit there today.

This new approach reflects our long-term partnership with Iraq — one based upon mutual interests, and mutual respect. Of course, violence will not end with our combat mission. Extremists will continue to set off bombs, attack Iraqi civilians and try to spark sectarian strife. But ultimately, these terrorists will fail to achieve their goals. Iraqis are a proud people. They have rejected sectarian war, and they have no interest in endless destruction. They understand that, in the end, only Iraqis can resolve their differences and police their streets. Only Iraqis can build a democracy within their borders. What America can do, and will do, is provide support for the Iraqi people as both a friend and a partner.

And he put forth a positive statement on the Afghanistan war:

As we speak, al Qaeda continues to plot against us, and its leadership remains anchored in the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan. We will disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda, while preventing Afghanistan from again serving as a base for terrorists. And because of our drawdown in Iraq, we are now able to apply the resources necessary to go on offense. In fact, over the last 19 months, nearly a dozen al Qaeda leaders –and hundreds of Al Qaeda’s extremist allies–have been killed or captured around the world.

Within Afghanistan, I have ordered the deployment of additional troops who — under the command of General David Petraeus — are fighting to break the Taliban’s momentum. As with the surge in Iraq, these forces will be in place for a limited time to provide space for the Afghans to build their capacity and secure their own future.

But those comments were, regrettably, far outweighed by a number of unhelpful, ungracious, and downright inaccurate moments.

First, in his recap and praise of George W. Bush’s administration, he never explained how it was that we succeeded in Iraq. It was of course that same surge that we are now using in Afghanistan. He said this about Bush:

This afternoon, I spoke to former President George W. Bush. It’s well known that he and I disagreed about the war from its outset. Yet no one could doubt President Bush’s support for our troops, or his love of country and commitment to our security. As I have said, there were patriots who supported this war, and patriots who opposed it. And all of us are united in appreciation for our servicemen and women, and our hope for Iraq’s future.

But Mr. President, Bush was not just a great guy — he was right. It was one more instance of the lack of introspection and grace that has characterized Obama’s entire presidency.

Next, he reiterated the Afghanistan deadline, trying to fuzz it up rather than revoke it:

[A]s was the case in Iraq, we cannot do for Afghans what they must ultimately do for themselves. That’s why we are training Afghan Security Forces and supporting a political resolution to Afghanistan’s problems. And, next July, we will begin a transition to Afghan responsibility. The pace of our troop reductions will be determined by conditions on the ground, and our support for Afghanistan will endure. But make no mistake: this transition will begin — because open-ended war serves neither our interests nor the Afghan people’s.

You see, Obama’s not into open-ended commitment. This is the same counterproductive claptrap that has been roundly criticized and that reveals him to be fundamentally disinterested in foreign policy. It is also why both friends and enemies doubt our staying power.

But most of all, the bulk of the speech had nothing to do with either Iraq or Afghanistan — it was a pep talk for his domestic agenda. This cements the sense that he simply wants out of messy foreign commitments. He also repeated a number of domestic policy canards. This was among the worst, blaming our debt on wars rather than on domestic fiscal gluttony: “We have spent over a trillion dollars at war, often financed by borrowing from overseas. This, in turn, has short-changed investments in our own people, and contributed to record deficits. For too long, we have put off tough decisions on everything from our manufacturing base to our energy policy to education reform.”

He is arguing for more spending.

Obama is still candidate Obama, never tiring of reminding us that he kept his campaign pledge and ever eager to push aside foreign policy challenges so he can get on with the business of remaking America. All in all, it was what we were promised it would not be — self-serving, disingenuous, ungracious, and unreassuring.

UPDATE: COMMENTARY contributor Jonah Goldberg’s smart take is here.

UPDATE II: Charles Krauthammer’s reaction is here.

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Measuring Obama: Their Finest Hour but Not Ours

In the wake of yet another disappointing Oval Office speech, this time about the oil spill and energy policy, the arrival today of the 70th anniversary of two of the most influential speeches by world leaders is a harsh reminder of the gap between President Barack Obama’s pedestrian yet self-aggrandizing style and the measure of genuine leadership. Measuring anyone, even someone whose supporters tend to speak of him as if he were the Messiah, against the standards set on June 18, 1940, by Winston Churchill and Charles De Gaulle may be unfair. But the contrast between Obama and these historical icons isn’t so much one of eloquence but their ability to see moral choices clearly, to act decisively based on those choices, and then to be able to articulate the reasoning behind them in such a way as to not only render them explicable to a general audience but also to inspire their listeners to act and sacrifice in the cause they have set forth.

Addressing the House of Commons after the collapse of the French army under the weight of the German blitzkrieg, Churchill made one of the most justly famous speeches in history. His concluding sentence still has the power to raise the hair on the back of our necks today: “Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour.’ ”

But there was more to this speech than just a memorable phrase. He was brutally frank about the extent of the catastrophe to the Allies while urging that time not be wasted on recriminations. He spoke of the hope of victory but grounded that hope in practical policy. Most important, unlike many in the Commons as well as in his cabinet who still thought that peace with Hitler was possible and that accommodation with the reality of Nazi victory was merely common sense, Churchill was unafraid to state explicitly that such a decision would be unthinkable, because “if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science.”

Elsewhere in London that day, De Gaulle, a mere brigadier general and an undersecretary of war in the last government of France’s Third Republic, made a speech on the BBC declaring that he and not the French leaders who would soon sign an armistice and set up the Nazi puppet Vichy regime truly represented the people of France. Though almost all of his countrymen could not see past their lamentable predicament at that moment, DeGaulle, almost alone, refused to submit. Like Churchill, he saw the war as more than merely a struggle of countries but of ideas. As he put it, “Honor, common sense and the best interest of our homeland all command the free French to fight.” He asked the French to consider that when “the forces of liberty finally triumph over those of servitude, what will be the destiny of a France which submitted to the enemy.” Though most of the French passively waited out the war until they were liberated by the sacrifices of others, De Gaulle not only saved the honor of his country but also inspired many Frenchmen and others to fight on against the Nazis.

Taken together, it is easy now to see these two statements as examples of how true statesmen can react at a crucial moment of history. By contrast, today the United States may be in a far stronger position than was Britain and France in 1940, but it, too, is faced with grave threats to its security that force it to fight wars that also demand inspired leadership. But it is led by a man who prides himself above all on his cool temperament, his willingness to see the world in terms of moral equivalences, his irrepressible desire to apologize to enemies of freedom rather than to confront them, and to temporize and prevaricate and to choose half measures when faced with dilemmas rather than to act decisively and with honor.

Comparisons with historical greatness are inevitably invidious, but seen in this light, the gap between Churchill and De Gaulle on the one hand and Barack Obama on the other must force Americans to sadly admit that this is not our finest hour.

In the wake of yet another disappointing Oval Office speech, this time about the oil spill and energy policy, the arrival today of the 70th anniversary of two of the most influential speeches by world leaders is a harsh reminder of the gap between President Barack Obama’s pedestrian yet self-aggrandizing style and the measure of genuine leadership. Measuring anyone, even someone whose supporters tend to speak of him as if he were the Messiah, against the standards set on June 18, 1940, by Winston Churchill and Charles De Gaulle may be unfair. But the contrast between Obama and these historical icons isn’t so much one of eloquence but their ability to see moral choices clearly, to act decisively based on those choices, and then to be able to articulate the reasoning behind them in such a way as to not only render them explicable to a general audience but also to inspire their listeners to act and sacrifice in the cause they have set forth.

Addressing the House of Commons after the collapse of the French army under the weight of the German blitzkrieg, Churchill made one of the most justly famous speeches in history. His concluding sentence still has the power to raise the hair on the back of our necks today: “Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour.’ ”

But there was more to this speech than just a memorable phrase. He was brutally frank about the extent of the catastrophe to the Allies while urging that time not be wasted on recriminations. He spoke of the hope of victory but grounded that hope in practical policy. Most important, unlike many in the Commons as well as in his cabinet who still thought that peace with Hitler was possible and that accommodation with the reality of Nazi victory was merely common sense, Churchill was unafraid to state explicitly that such a decision would be unthinkable, because “if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science.”

Elsewhere in London that day, De Gaulle, a mere brigadier general and an undersecretary of war in the last government of France’s Third Republic, made a speech on the BBC declaring that he and not the French leaders who would soon sign an armistice and set up the Nazi puppet Vichy regime truly represented the people of France. Though almost all of his countrymen could not see past their lamentable predicament at that moment, DeGaulle, almost alone, refused to submit. Like Churchill, he saw the war as more than merely a struggle of countries but of ideas. As he put it, “Honor, common sense and the best interest of our homeland all command the free French to fight.” He asked the French to consider that when “the forces of liberty finally triumph over those of servitude, what will be the destiny of a France which submitted to the enemy.” Though most of the French passively waited out the war until they were liberated by the sacrifices of others, De Gaulle not only saved the honor of his country but also inspired many Frenchmen and others to fight on against the Nazis.

Taken together, it is easy now to see these two statements as examples of how true statesmen can react at a crucial moment of history. By contrast, today the United States may be in a far stronger position than was Britain and France in 1940, but it, too, is faced with grave threats to its security that force it to fight wars that also demand inspired leadership. But it is led by a man who prides himself above all on his cool temperament, his willingness to see the world in terms of moral equivalences, his irrepressible desire to apologize to enemies of freedom rather than to confront them, and to temporize and prevaricate and to choose half measures when faced with dilemmas rather than to act decisively and with honor.

Comparisons with historical greatness are inevitably invidious, but seen in this light, the gap between Churchill and De Gaulle on the one hand and Barack Obama on the other must force Americans to sadly admit that this is not our finest hour.

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Smart Campaign, Dim White House

There is certainly no shortage of boos for Obama’s Oval Office debacle Tuesday night. David Broder poses the “How can such smart campaigners be so dumb in governing?” question:

If there is any value in President Obama’s knocking himself out to dramatize on prime-time television his impotence in the face of the Gulf of Mexico oil leak calamity, I wish someone would explain it. His multiple inspection trips to the afflicted and threatened states, his Oval Office TV address to the nation, and now his sit-down with the executives of BP have certainly established his personal connection with one of the worst environmental disasters in history. But the only thing people want to hear from him is word that the problem is on its way to being solved — and this message he cannot deliver.

Part of the problem is a president who still believes in his oratorical abilities (despite abundant evidence that his powers of persuasion disappeared on Election Day 2008) — and a staff unable to tell the president that less is more. Part of it is panic, as Obama sees his presidency coming apart at the seams. But Broder himself supplies a good deal of the answer:

Uncertainties in Washington about energy policy, taxes, financial regulation — to say nothing about bad-news bulletins from Afghanistan and other overseas datelines — cloud the economic picture more than oil plumes pollute the gulf. But Obama seems focused on the relatively insignificant.

Indeed, Obama often seems to be off-topic — obsessing over health care while Americans are worried about jobs, and fixated on paper agreements for a nuke-free world and Jerusalem housing projects while Iran builds the bomb. He plainly doesn’t have a clue about how to solve the big issues (e.g., restoring economic growth, stopping the mullahs), so he focuses on what is within his grasp (jamming through health-care reform, bullying Israel). The things within his grasp, of course, coincide with his extreme ideological goals (displacing the private health-care industry, turning the screws on Israel while moving closer to its Muslim neighbors).

In answer, then, to Broder’s query, a smart campaign team becomes a disastrous administration by ignoring the political disposition of the country, embarking on ideological quests, and, of course, having a narcissist for president, one unable to hire or listen to anyone but yes men.

There is certainly no shortage of boos for Obama’s Oval Office debacle Tuesday night. David Broder poses the “How can such smart campaigners be so dumb in governing?” question:

If there is any value in President Obama’s knocking himself out to dramatize on prime-time television his impotence in the face of the Gulf of Mexico oil leak calamity, I wish someone would explain it. His multiple inspection trips to the afflicted and threatened states, his Oval Office TV address to the nation, and now his sit-down with the executives of BP have certainly established his personal connection with one of the worst environmental disasters in history. But the only thing people want to hear from him is word that the problem is on its way to being solved — and this message he cannot deliver.

Part of the problem is a president who still believes in his oratorical abilities (despite abundant evidence that his powers of persuasion disappeared on Election Day 2008) — and a staff unable to tell the president that less is more. Part of it is panic, as Obama sees his presidency coming apart at the seams. But Broder himself supplies a good deal of the answer:

Uncertainties in Washington about energy policy, taxes, financial regulation — to say nothing about bad-news bulletins from Afghanistan and other overseas datelines — cloud the economic picture more than oil plumes pollute the gulf. But Obama seems focused on the relatively insignificant.

Indeed, Obama often seems to be off-topic — obsessing over health care while Americans are worried about jobs, and fixated on paper agreements for a nuke-free world and Jerusalem housing projects while Iran builds the bomb. He plainly doesn’t have a clue about how to solve the big issues (e.g., restoring economic growth, stopping the mullahs), so he focuses on what is within his grasp (jamming through health-care reform, bullying Israel). The things within his grasp, of course, coincide with his extreme ideological goals (displacing the private health-care industry, turning the screws on Israel while moving closer to its Muslim neighbors).

In answer, then, to Broder’s query, a smart campaign team becomes a disastrous administration by ignoring the political disposition of the country, embarking on ideological quests, and, of course, having a narcissist for president, one unable to hire or listen to anyone but yes men.

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The Unmasking of Barack Obama (Continued)

I guess the thrill up the leg is gone. If you’re Barack Obama and, as Jennifer points out, your speech is panned by Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, and Howard Fineman — three Obama acolytes in the press — then it’s reasonable to assume that the speech can be judged a failure. And last night’s Oval Office address was certainly that.

President Obama was thin on policies. He focused on inputs instead of outcomes. The words were flat. And it contained one of the worst sections from an Oval Office address ever:

All of these approaches [on energy policy] have merit, and deserve a fair hearing in the months ahead. But the one approach I will not accept is inaction. The one answer I will not settle for is the idea that this challenge is too big and too difficult to meet. You see, the same thing was said about our ability to produce enough planes and tanks in World War II. The same thing was said about our ability to harness the science and technology to land a man safely on the surface of the moon. And yet, time and again, we have refused to settle for the paltry limits of conventional wisdom. Instead, what has defined us as a nation since our founding is our capacity to shape our destiny — our determination to fight for the America we want for our children. Even if we’re unsure exactly what that looks like. Even if we don’t yet know precisely how to get there. We know we’ll get there.

It is a faith in the future that sustains us as a people. It is that same faith that sustains our neighbors in the Gulf right now.

This is clueless nonsense. For one thing, the reference to the moon landing is hackneyed. The reference to not accepting inaction is meaningless in the context of what is unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico right now. And the concession that “we’re unsure exactly what that [destiny] looks like” and “we don’t yet know precisely how to get there” is devastating. President Obama is invoking pseudo-inspirational rhetoric that is disconnected from reality and from a road map.

Barack Obama is clearly more interested in the theater of the presidency than he is in governing. He is cut out to be a legislator and a commentator, not a chief executive. And when he spoke about seizing the moment and embarking on a national mission, as if he were trying to rise above the environmental catastrophe he looks powerless to stop, there was something slightly pathetic about it. He was trying to recapture the magic from a campaign that was long ago and far away. He is now being humbled by events and his own limitations. And he doesn’t know what to do about it.

The unmasking of Barack Obama continues. It is not a pretty thing to witness.

I guess the thrill up the leg is gone. If you’re Barack Obama and, as Jennifer points out, your speech is panned by Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, and Howard Fineman — three Obama acolytes in the press — then it’s reasonable to assume that the speech can be judged a failure. And last night’s Oval Office address was certainly that.

President Obama was thin on policies. He focused on inputs instead of outcomes. The words were flat. And it contained one of the worst sections from an Oval Office address ever:

All of these approaches [on energy policy] have merit, and deserve a fair hearing in the months ahead. But the one approach I will not accept is inaction. The one answer I will not settle for is the idea that this challenge is too big and too difficult to meet. You see, the same thing was said about our ability to produce enough planes and tanks in World War II. The same thing was said about our ability to harness the science and technology to land a man safely on the surface of the moon. And yet, time and again, we have refused to settle for the paltry limits of conventional wisdom. Instead, what has defined us as a nation since our founding is our capacity to shape our destiny — our determination to fight for the America we want for our children. Even if we’re unsure exactly what that looks like. Even if we don’t yet know precisely how to get there. We know we’ll get there.

It is a faith in the future that sustains us as a people. It is that same faith that sustains our neighbors in the Gulf right now.

This is clueless nonsense. For one thing, the reference to the moon landing is hackneyed. The reference to not accepting inaction is meaningless in the context of what is unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico right now. And the concession that “we’re unsure exactly what that [destiny] looks like” and “we don’t yet know precisely how to get there” is devastating. President Obama is invoking pseudo-inspirational rhetoric that is disconnected from reality and from a road map.

Barack Obama is clearly more interested in the theater of the presidency than he is in governing. He is cut out to be a legislator and a commentator, not a chief executive. And when he spoke about seizing the moment and embarking on a national mission, as if he were trying to rise above the environmental catastrophe he looks powerless to stop, there was something slightly pathetic about it. He was trying to recapture the magic from a campaign that was long ago and far away. He is now being humbled by events and his own limitations. And he doesn’t know what to do about it.

The unmasking of Barack Obama continues. It is not a pretty thing to witness.

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Obama Failing on the Things the Public Cares Most About

We’ve seen oodles of polls of late, all reflecting a precipitous decline in Obama’s approval ratings. But none is more interesting than the poll by the Economist. It is all the more fascinating — and devastating for Obama — because it is a  poll of all adults, not registered or likely voters, which normally would tilt more to the Left. In other words, among likely voters Obama would probably be doing even worse.

The results show a president struggling. On the oil spill, 28% approve and 42% disapprove of his performance. On taxes, government spending, immigration, gun control, national defense, and terrorism the respondents say they are closer to the Republican Party than the Democratic Party. On gun control and national defense there is a double-digit gap. Democrats do better on regulating business (but within the margin of error), the environment, abortion (also within the margin of error), gay marriage, health care (by four points) and energy policy. In an enormous turnaround since Obama took office, the parties tie on the economy.

38 percent support the goals of the Tea Party movement; 27 percent do not. In a slew of areas (the Middle East, Afghanistan, energy policy, the environment, the economy, job security, health-care coverage, education, entitlement programs, the financial system, and Wall Street) the public thinks we are worse off than two years ago. There is no area in which the public thinks things have improved. They disapprove of Obama’s performance on Iraq, the economy (39 percent strongly so), immigration (41 percent strongly so), the environment, terrorism, gay rights, social security, the deficit (57 percent strongly or somewhat), Afghanistan, and taxes. On education they approve, but within the margin of error. Overall 44 percent approve of his performance and 49 percent do not.

With the exception of education and health care, the areas respondents are most concerned about (the economy, terrorism, social security, the budget deficit, and taxes) are ones on which Obama is doing very poorly and which most respondents believe have gotten worse in the last two years.

Finally, with regard to personal qualities, some of the results are stunning. Only 14 percent describe Obama as experienced, 47 percent don’t. (After 18 months in office, that is.) 31 percent  do not describe him as effective, only 25 percent do. 35 percent would not describe him as unifying, only 18 percent would. Although within the margin of error, more would not describe him as patriotic or in touch.

I go through these in some detail because the results present a picture of a president failing in nearly every area the public cares most about and who has lost the advantage on personal qualities, which were the foundation of his appeal as a candidate. In 18 months he has gone from “a sort of God” to “a sort of goat.” Maybe he can turn things around, but he has a long way to go.

We’ve seen oodles of polls of late, all reflecting a precipitous decline in Obama’s approval ratings. But none is more interesting than the poll by the Economist. It is all the more fascinating — and devastating for Obama — because it is a  poll of all adults, not registered or likely voters, which normally would tilt more to the Left. In other words, among likely voters Obama would probably be doing even worse.

The results show a president struggling. On the oil spill, 28% approve and 42% disapprove of his performance. On taxes, government spending, immigration, gun control, national defense, and terrorism the respondents say they are closer to the Republican Party than the Democratic Party. On gun control and national defense there is a double-digit gap. Democrats do better on regulating business (but within the margin of error), the environment, abortion (also within the margin of error), gay marriage, health care (by four points) and energy policy. In an enormous turnaround since Obama took office, the parties tie on the economy.

38 percent support the goals of the Tea Party movement; 27 percent do not. In a slew of areas (the Middle East, Afghanistan, energy policy, the environment, the economy, job security, health-care coverage, education, entitlement programs, the financial system, and Wall Street) the public thinks we are worse off than two years ago. There is no area in which the public thinks things have improved. They disapprove of Obama’s performance on Iraq, the economy (39 percent strongly so), immigration (41 percent strongly so), the environment, terrorism, gay rights, social security, the deficit (57 percent strongly or somewhat), Afghanistan, and taxes. On education they approve, but within the margin of error. Overall 44 percent approve of his performance and 49 percent do not.

With the exception of education and health care, the areas respondents are most concerned about (the economy, terrorism, social security, the budget deficit, and taxes) are ones on which Obama is doing very poorly and which most respondents believe have gotten worse in the last two years.

Finally, with regard to personal qualities, some of the results are stunning. Only 14 percent describe Obama as experienced, 47 percent don’t. (After 18 months in office, that is.) 31 percent  do not describe him as effective, only 25 percent do. 35 percent would not describe him as unifying, only 18 percent would. Although within the margin of error, more would not describe him as patriotic or in touch.

I go through these in some detail because the results present a picture of a president failing in nearly every area the public cares most about and who has lost the advantage on personal qualities, which were the foundation of his appeal as a candidate. In 18 months he has gone from “a sort of God” to “a sort of goat.” Maybe he can turn things around, but he has a long way to go.

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Obama Escapes From His Offshore-Drilling Promise

So much for the Obami’s willingness to pursue domestic energy exploration and drilling:

There will be no new domestic offshore oil drilling pending a review of the rig disaster and massive oil spill along the Gulf Coast, the White House said Friday morning. Speaking on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” senior adviser David Axelrod said “no additional [offshore] drilling has been authorized, and none will until we find out what happened and whether there was something unique and preventable here. … No domestic drilling in new areas is going to go forward until there is an adequate review of what’s happened here and of what is being proposed elsewhere.” The administration recently announced that it would open new coastal areas to oil exploration, including regions off Virginia’s coast and in the Gulf of Mexico, ending a long moratorium on new drilling.

Well, in essence, this gets the administration off the hook with enraged environmental lobbyists who went berserk when Obama suggested that we might open up offshore drilling. But then there was always less than met the eye when it came to Obama’s commitment to domestic energy development: “Any new drilling was years away anyway under the administration’s new drilling policy, which was interpreted as an attempt to show bipartisanship in energy policy and get greater support in the process for climate legislation.” So now even the fig leaf of bipartisanship is gone. And that “review,” one can bet, will be just as slow as the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell review. In short, the Obami aren’t about to move any quicker on offshore drilling than they are on gays in the military.

So much for the Obami’s willingness to pursue domestic energy exploration and drilling:

There will be no new domestic offshore oil drilling pending a review of the rig disaster and massive oil spill along the Gulf Coast, the White House said Friday morning. Speaking on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” senior adviser David Axelrod said “no additional [offshore] drilling has been authorized, and none will until we find out what happened and whether there was something unique and preventable here. … No domestic drilling in new areas is going to go forward until there is an adequate review of what’s happened here and of what is being proposed elsewhere.” The administration recently announced that it would open new coastal areas to oil exploration, including regions off Virginia’s coast and in the Gulf of Mexico, ending a long moratorium on new drilling.

Well, in essence, this gets the administration off the hook with enraged environmental lobbyists who went berserk when Obama suggested that we might open up offshore drilling. But then there was always less than met the eye when it came to Obama’s commitment to domestic energy development: “Any new drilling was years away anyway under the administration’s new drilling policy, which was interpreted as an attempt to show bipartisanship in energy policy and get greater support in the process for climate legislation.” So now even the fig leaf of bipartisanship is gone. And that “review,” one can bet, will be just as slow as the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell review. In short, the Obami aren’t about to move any quicker on offshore drilling than they are on gays in the military.

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Gibbs: The Perfect Obami Mouthpiece

Chris Stirewalt writes:

When will President Obama give up on the Robert Gibbs experiment? Immediately after Obama made a surprise appearance in a snow-emptied press briefing room to emphasize that he was sincere about his new call for bipartisanship, Gibb took the podium for a bit of prop comedy at the expense of the GOP. In taking follow-up questions from reporters, Gibbs went into a rehearsed, tedious bit Sarah Palin writing talking points on her hand. He wrote his grocery list and “ hope and change” on his own hand. That he lacked the good sense to keep his palm on the podium after Obama’s remarks should be enough to get him sacked.

On one level, this is true — Gibbs’ snide demeanor and sneering attitude toward both the news corps and critics don’t aid the president. But again, let’s be clear: Obama hired Gibbs, likes Gibbs, and keeps Gibbs there. According to TV news reports this morning, the president did not rebuke Gibbs after the anti-Palin stunt. Of course he didn’t. The experiment here is not Gibbs but the phony, insincere bipartisanship.

Even mainstream news outlets are on to the hollowness of the new Obama bipartisan gambit. CBS reports:

Mr. Obama said he “won’t hesitate to embrace a good idea from my friends in the minority party.” But he wants his way. He wants his energy policy enacted along with his jobs bill, his financial regulatory reform and his health care plan.And if the opposition continues to block his objectives, he said he “won’t hesitate to condemn what I consider to be obstinacy that’s rooted not in substantive disagreement but in political expedience.”

When a sitting president calls for bipartisanship by the opposition – he really means surrender. And if they block his proposals, its “obstinacy” and not political views they hold as strongly as he holds his.

So it is not Gibbs who is in danger of losing his job. He gives voice to the inner sneer of the Obama White House, the low regard in which it holds all opponents. Only David Letterman could better embody the prevailing attitude: “Aren’t we cool, and aren’t they all dopes out there?” Yes, Gibbs does give away the game from time to time, but the Obami can’t restrain themselves. They have their perfect spokesman. He’s not going anywhere, unless he gets a promotion as a reward for his year of showing us precisely what the Obami think of themselves and the rest of us.

Chris Stirewalt writes:

When will President Obama give up on the Robert Gibbs experiment? Immediately after Obama made a surprise appearance in a snow-emptied press briefing room to emphasize that he was sincere about his new call for bipartisanship, Gibb took the podium for a bit of prop comedy at the expense of the GOP. In taking follow-up questions from reporters, Gibbs went into a rehearsed, tedious bit Sarah Palin writing talking points on her hand. He wrote his grocery list and “ hope and change” on his own hand. That he lacked the good sense to keep his palm on the podium after Obama’s remarks should be enough to get him sacked.

On one level, this is true — Gibbs’ snide demeanor and sneering attitude toward both the news corps and critics don’t aid the president. But again, let’s be clear: Obama hired Gibbs, likes Gibbs, and keeps Gibbs there. According to TV news reports this morning, the president did not rebuke Gibbs after the anti-Palin stunt. Of course he didn’t. The experiment here is not Gibbs but the phony, insincere bipartisanship.

Even mainstream news outlets are on to the hollowness of the new Obama bipartisan gambit. CBS reports:

Mr. Obama said he “won’t hesitate to embrace a good idea from my friends in the minority party.” But he wants his way. He wants his energy policy enacted along with his jobs bill, his financial regulatory reform and his health care plan.And if the opposition continues to block his objectives, he said he “won’t hesitate to condemn what I consider to be obstinacy that’s rooted not in substantive disagreement but in political expedience.”

When a sitting president calls for bipartisanship by the opposition – he really means surrender. And if they block his proposals, its “obstinacy” and not political views they hold as strongly as he holds his.

So it is not Gibbs who is in danger of losing his job. He gives voice to the inner sneer of the Obama White House, the low regard in which it holds all opponents. Only David Letterman could better embody the prevailing attitude: “Aren’t we cool, and aren’t they all dopes out there?” Yes, Gibbs does give away the game from time to time, but the Obami can’t restrain themselves. They have their perfect spokesman. He’s not going anywhere, unless he gets a promotion as a reward for his year of showing us precisely what the Obami think of themselves and the rest of us.

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Like It’s Still 2008

The unhinged Palin haters are back. And they haven’t deviated from the familiar plotlines. She’s a sexed-up tabloid star, you see. (“Why be Evita, when you can be Madonna?’) Get it ? She’s a slutty celebrity. And she’s a Christian whack job with no public-policy views: “Sarah Palin appears to have no testable core conviction except the belief (which none of her defenders denies that she holds, or at least has held and not yet repudiated) that the end of days and the Second Coming will occur in her lifetime.”

Yes, this is where they left off when Palin was still running for office and Joe Biden was regarded as the serious vice-presidential candidate. It matters not if much of the claptrap (she banned books, she doesn’t want evolution taught, etc.) has been debunked by the meticulous work of Matthew Continetti (whose book about Sarah Palin is actually a devastating critique of the mainstream media and the very people who are now back frothing at the mouth). It matters not that she seized the floor in the health-care debate and has a million followers on Facebook who can read her views on energy policy and other issues without the media filter. The Palin-attack machine is good business and earns the approving nods of cable-news-show bookers and magazine editors.

We left the realm of facts and decency many, many months ago when it came to coverage of Palin. The question now remains whether once again the Palin haters will manage only to endear her to the conservative base – and even those not entirely sold on her political prospects.

The unhinged Palin haters are back. And they haven’t deviated from the familiar plotlines. She’s a sexed-up tabloid star, you see. (“Why be Evita, when you can be Madonna?’) Get it ? She’s a slutty celebrity. And she’s a Christian whack job with no public-policy views: “Sarah Palin appears to have no testable core conviction except the belief (which none of her defenders denies that she holds, or at least has held and not yet repudiated) that the end of days and the Second Coming will occur in her lifetime.”

Yes, this is where they left off when Palin was still running for office and Joe Biden was regarded as the serious vice-presidential candidate. It matters not if much of the claptrap (she banned books, she doesn’t want evolution taught, etc.) has been debunked by the meticulous work of Matthew Continetti (whose book about Sarah Palin is actually a devastating critique of the mainstream media and the very people who are now back frothing at the mouth). It matters not that she seized the floor in the health-care debate and has a million followers on Facebook who can read her views on energy policy and other issues without the media filter. The Palin-attack machine is good business and earns the approving nods of cable-news-show bookers and magazine editors.

We left the realm of facts and decency many, many months ago when it came to coverage of Palin. The question now remains whether once again the Palin haters will manage only to endear her to the conservative base – and even those not entirely sold on her political prospects.

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John McCain Is Smiling Again

Former Bill Clinton aide (and current Barack Obama supporter) Greg Craig has released a memo essentially accusing Hillary of résumé fraud. She did not, according to Craig, bring peace to Northern Ireland or open borders to fleeing refugees from Kosovo when her husband was President. And her Beijing speech in favor of women’s rights was just a speech. In other words, she is just as unqualified as Obama on foreign policy. Craig also beats the “Obama was right on Iraq” drum, which is a popular (but increasingly stale) line for the Democratic base.

Meanwhile, Clinton hits Obama on the “double talk” front, this time on energy policy. On NAFTA, Iraq, and now energy, Clinton claims that Obama rhetoric does not match even his meager voting record.

It is hard to see how this “No, he’s unqualifed and unreliable”/”No, she’s unqualified and unreliable” argument does not wind up bolstering McCain, big time. This is free ad time for him, in essence, as the Democrats whack each other over the head with charges of puffery and inexperience. It all will come back in ads in the fall. But for now it is giving liberal pundits the shakes.

Former Bill Clinton aide (and current Barack Obama supporter) Greg Craig has released a memo essentially accusing Hillary of résumé fraud. She did not, according to Craig, bring peace to Northern Ireland or open borders to fleeing refugees from Kosovo when her husband was President. And her Beijing speech in favor of women’s rights was just a speech. In other words, she is just as unqualified as Obama on foreign policy. Craig also beats the “Obama was right on Iraq” drum, which is a popular (but increasingly stale) line for the Democratic base.

Meanwhile, Clinton hits Obama on the “double talk” front, this time on energy policy. On NAFTA, Iraq, and now energy, Clinton claims that Obama rhetoric does not match even his meager voting record.

It is hard to see how this “No, he’s unqualifed and unreliable”/”No, she’s unqualified and unreliable” argument does not wind up bolstering McCain, big time. This is free ad time for him, in essence, as the Democrats whack each other over the head with charges of puffery and inexperience. It all will come back in ads in the fall. But for now it is giving liberal pundits the shakes.

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Obama’s Energy Nonsense

Barack Obama spent a few minutes condemning the Bush administration for failing to have an energy policy. An hour later, he turns around and announces opposition to the Yucca Mountain nuclear-waste storage facility — which is key if we are to come up with an energy policy to replace national dependence on foreign oil through the deployment of nuclear power. All the Democrats oppose Yucca Mountain, and why? Because it’s in Nevada, they’re in Nevada, Nevada Democrats don’t like it, and the liberal stance on nuclear power remains wildly irresponsible.

Barack Obama spent a few minutes condemning the Bush administration for failing to have an energy policy. An hour later, he turns around and announces opposition to the Yucca Mountain nuclear-waste storage facility — which is key if we are to come up with an energy policy to replace national dependence on foreign oil through the deployment of nuclear power. All the Democrats oppose Yucca Mountain, and why? Because it’s in Nevada, they’re in Nevada, Nevada Democrats don’t like it, and the liberal stance on nuclear power remains wildly irresponsible.

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