Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 26, 2010

LINDSEY GRAHAM'S BAD ADVICE.... I don't see the logic behind this at all.

The chief Senate Republican negotiator on energy legislation urged President Obama and Democrats to abandon comprehensive reform for the time being and push passable components of the bill instead.

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Tuesday said that in the wake of the massive oil spill in the Gulf the votes simply aren't there for the Senate to pass far-reaching legislation.

"You have a comprehensive approach that can sell and I don't think many people believe that the oil spill has helped get more votes for offshore drilling," he said. "It has made it a hard climb. Let's do smaller version of the energy climate bill... and be realistic about what is possible or not."

Let me see if I get this straight. For Lindsey Graham, when the desperate need for an overhaul to the U.S. approach to energy policy is less obvious, he's willing to work on an ambitious, comprehensive solution. When there's a catastrophe, shining a bright light on the urgent need for a comprehensive approach, Lindsey Graham wants policymakers to scale back and accept less.

Or put another way, pre-catastrophe, Graham wanted to aim high. Post-catastrophe, Graham wants to aim low.

It seems pretty obvious that this is backwards. What more evidence could Graham and his cohorts need that a compressive approach -- which, as recently as a few weeks ago, had Democratic, Republican, and independent support -- needs immediate attention?

Graham reportedly conveyed his advice to the president yesterday at the Senate GOP luncheon. The White House issued a statement that said the president told Republican senators that the BP oil spill disaster "should heighten our sense of urgency to hasten the development of new, clean energy sources that will promote energy independence and good-paying American jobs."

That, apparently makes too much sense to succeed.

Steve Benen 1:15 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (23)

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This only makes sense if the legislation was all based around offshore drilling.

I think in the wake of this disaster, everything else should gain support easily.

Which, clearly, is what Graham is worried about.

Posted by: Mr Furious on May 26, 2010 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

"You have a comprehensive approach that can sell and I don't think many people believe that the oil spill has helped get more votes for offshore drilling," [Graham] said. "It has made it a hard climb. Let's do smaller version of the energy climate bill... and be realistic about what is possible or not."

I totally agree. Let's rip out all the provisions for expanding drilling and "research" and focus entirely on alternate fuel sources, mass transportation and lifestyles that don't require 2-3 hours of commuting each day.

Best way to do that is to tax oil consumption and direct the proceeds to such endeavours. Exemptions can be granted where the benefit of such consumption exceeds that cost.

Posted by: bdop4 on May 26, 2010 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

It might be that he fears the bill would get stronger on the floor, ala Wall Street/Financial Reform bill, as the oil rolls on shore over the coming months. That would be my first take in any case.


Posted by: Michael A on May 26, 2010 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

I woudn't say it was "based around" offshore drilling, but it does appear to have been an essential element for getting those 3 or 4 Republican votes needed to break a fillibuster (since at least a couple Dems would vote to support one).

So, with the ongoing BP disaster in the gulf, support for offshore drilling is down but Republicans will still oppose any energy bill that doesn't have it.

Posted by: tanstaafl on May 26, 2010 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

Obama careing about good paying jobs is pretty funny. Were you talking about the bankers and their high paying jobs that they still have thanks to him? There are no such thing as a good paying green job unless your kermit the frog.

Posted by: rick on May 26, 2010 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

It's not that the legislation was all based around offshore drilling. It's that, because Republicans have totally fetishized offshore drilling for no real reason, it was absolutely necessary that the bill include offshore drilling as a quid pro quo to get any Republican support (as well as people like Landrieu). The oil spill has made offshore drilling untenable, because a bunch of liberal Democrats who were always hard sells are definitely not going to vote for it now. So the Republicans, instead of reassessing their stupid "Drill, Baby, Drill" slogan, are going to refuse to support a bill.

It's all idiotic, but has a certain internal logic.

Posted by: John on May 26, 2010 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

Graham is quite clear in his reasoning-- he believes that an energy bill that constrains the oil companies in a broad way from offshore drilling would be a bad thing. Consequently, an energy bill should be piecemeal and unambitious because then the limits on offshore drilling will also be piecemeal and unambitious. I disagree with Graham on his policy goals, but there's nothing wrong with his logic.

Posted by: MattF on May 26, 2010 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

rick, please take your lame-ass trolling self elsewhere, thanks. May I suggest ResistNet.com?

Posted by: Mowgli on May 26, 2010 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

Offshore drilling is similar to the death panels meme. It managed to get the base so whipped up that the tail is wagging the dog.

GOP energy policy short version: Drill, baby, drill! Economic and ecological disaster? What? No drilling? *takes ball and goes home* And btw, never said 'drill, baby, drill'.

Posted by: JRinDallas on May 26, 2010 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

Um, this is the GOP rhetoric about health care reform with "energy" pasted in place of "health care." Don't go for anything ambitious; instead, pass pieces.

Next week they'll say we should start the process over with a clean sheet of paper.

Posted by: Lifelong Dem on May 26, 2010 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

Mr Furious has it exactly right. What Graham is saying is this: A comprehensive energy bill should include provision for expanding off-shore drilling. Expanding off-shore drilling is a hard sell now. Therefore, we shouldn't try to do a comprehensive bill now.

He wants to work on an energy bill in a climate in which we are less likely to get interference from environmentalists and assorted tree-huggers.

Posted by: Daryl McCullough on May 26, 2010 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

It's only backwards if your goal is comprehensive energy reform that addresses climate change. If Graham's goal was always to get the GOP-friendly parts of the proposal passed while cutting out as much of what Democrats want as possible, then it makes perfect sense.

Posted by: Redshift on May 26, 2010 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

Not much on topic I realize but I have a silly question. With all the Republican hoopla about transparency being of utmost concern with this administration, why was the GOP luncheon with Prez Obama kept such a private affair? Or am I mistaken?

Posted by: whichwitch on May 26, 2010 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

If there is anything that needs more cleaning up than the Gulf of Cheney, it's the Senate.

Money just gushes and gushes.

Posted by: Doug on May 26, 2010 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

Is Graham actually wrong on this? The compromise in the bill was to trade off things like expanded off-shore drilling and nuclear subsidies for cap-and-trade and increased investment in renewables, right?

Now with the spill, no one on the center/left wants to keep that same deal. Republicans and oil-state Democrats haven't let a little thing like an environmental disaster affect their thinking at all, so there's no longer a deal to be made.

Given that, the choices seem to be 1) make this into a campaign issue and try to win more seats in the Senate next year, or 2) take the best legislation possible at this point.

What's the best course?

Posted by: Andrew on May 26, 2010 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

Graham might as well have said, "Buy BP gas to support the clean-up."

Posted by: ScottW714 on May 26, 2010 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe because I don't spend my days glued to conservative media, I don't understand why any American would ever want to give their vote to these Republican numskulls. Anyone help me out here?

Posted by: Goldilocks on May 26, 2010 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

What would really have made sense and made our situation so much better now in so many ways: long ago, a gas tax increase to reduce consumption (and maybe help close deficits, but it could offset other taxes.) I would rather it was on bbl of imported oil and not gas at pump, but something. And we know who to blame for resisting such measures: "hero" Ronald Reagan, Bushes 41 and 43, and their Congressional and lobby allies. Some measures now can help but it is getting too late to undo the dependency and geopolitical damage of our current demand.

(Note also, no population growth would have reduced demand. We can blame the same usual suspects along with reactionary social and religious institutions for impeding reform in that direction.)

And as I saw here:
How's that oily beachy thing workin' out for ya?

Posted by: Neil B on May 26, 2010 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

I could argue with Graham on the merits of one policy over another, but I have the feeling like I'm talking to the metaphorical farmer with a hole in his barn roof.

"Why fix the roof now -- it's raining."

"Why fix the roof now -- it's not raining."

Posted by: anonymous on May 26, 2010 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

"How's that oily beachy thing workin' out for ya?"
Posted by: Neil B on May 26, 2010 at 2:43 PM

And here's their response (one of the 871 commments currently attached to the photo-essay on the oil's impact at boston.com, a website of the Boston Globe reached by link-path from here thru Blue Girl's blog):

781 "Sabotage by OBAMA and BP exes to get his green agenda across. This is a deliberate act by the government carried out by BP. He is laughing at the people of the US."
Posted by JT May 26, 2010 09:41 AM

Limbaugh was making noises to this effect weeks ago. The delusion levels of these people are utterly impervious to reality.

Posted by: smartalek on May 26, 2010 at 6:22 PM | PERMALINK

Heh. Deepwater Truthers.

Posted by: Rocket J. Squirrel on May 26, 2010 at 6:48 PM | PERMALINK

Drive less baby, drill less

Posted by: THe Bear Party on May 27, 2010 at 7:28 AM | PERMALINK

Love it. Great job of putting this work together.

Posted by: Gravor on September 30, 2010 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK
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