Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 16, 2010

A GOP MESSAGE THAT'S SLIPPING IN THE OIL.... It's quickly becoming apparent that, in the midst of the BP oil spill crisis, the Republican Party hasn't quite settled on a message yet.

[T]he party that took control of the House chamber two summers ago with a "drill here, drill now" chant is suddenly struggling to find the right pitch on energy policy as the oil spill crisis defies conventional political messaging. [...]

...Republicans are now struggling with how to show appropriate outrage at Big Oil while sticking to their long-standing pro-drilling, pro-oil-company policies.

It's no doubt tricky -- the GOP has been allied with oil companies for years -- and considering the party's rhetoric of late, I'm not sure Republicans have decided exactly what point(s) they want to emphasize.

Republicans aren't satisfied with the Obama administration's response, but they don't want the administration to do more or be more aggressive. BP should be held accountable, the GOP believes, but should be protected from excessive accountability and oversight. The existing U.S. energy framework needs work, Republicans argue, but not too much, and certainly not with any policies that would make a significant difference.

One need look no further than House Minority Leader John Boehner's (R-Ohio) confusion last week over lifting the liability cap to realize that the GOP has no idea what it wants to say right now. For a party that prides itself on inflexible message discipline and talking points written in stone, it's an unusual spectacle.

Even good news is deemed dubious by Republicans. The new $20 billion escrow fund demanded by the White House will help ensure that American taxpayers are not left to pick the tab for the BP oil spill. And yet, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) disapproves of the idea -- he's apparently worried it will undermine BP profits too much -- and the perpetually-crazy Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) called the escrow "a redistribution-of-wealth fund" that could serve as a "gateway" for "more money to government."

As a substantive matter, Bachmann's hysterics are incoherent. But politically, it's worth keeping an eye on a potential trend -- if Republicans position themselves as the party looking out for BP and the oil industry's interests, there may be political consequences.

Steve Benen 2:05 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (23)

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Quote: '...the GOP has no idea what it wants to say right now.'

This is yet another instance when pesky reality smacks into the empty slogans that make up conservative 'thought'. The GOP knows full well what it wants to say, the same 'free market, no oversight' bullshit it's been peddling for decades, but events in the Gulf make that a pretty hard sell.

Posted by: BillFromPA on June 16, 2010 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans are finding out, 'You can't have your oil and spill it, too.'

Bachmann is a national treasure, isn't, she? She actually makes Palin look knowledgeable and sane. That, there, ain't no easy trick!

Posted by: c u n d gulag on June 16, 2010 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

"if Republicans position themselves as the party looking out for BP and the oil industry's interests, there may be political consequences."

Every time I think this could actually happen I keep telling myself "the Republicans couldn't possibly be so stupid as to actually try it..."

But then...

Posted by: Nied on June 16, 2010 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

-Speaking of Bachmann, MSNBC has been pimping Chris Matthew's Teaparty documentary all day, promising many quotes from Michelle, Sarah, Dick Army, Angles, etc.

And Tweety himself says his only appearance will be a comment at the end- reason enough to watch!

Posted by: DAY on June 16, 2010 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

American politics: It's baseball, where the Republicans can have as many at-bats as they want, and only the base hits count. The Democrats can only bat until they get a strike, then the media stop the game and endlessly review how terribly the Democrats missed that pitch.

Posted by: anonymous on June 16, 2010 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

The GOP "message" on any issue doesn't have to make sense, it just has to be an attack on Obama and Democrats, no matter how nuts or extreme. Hell, they could denounce Obama for deliberately not capping the gulf gusher as a communistic scheme of "energy redistribution" -- free oil for welfare queens -- and their base would eat it up.

WLS - whatever Limbaugh says. He's their leader. That's their message.

Posted by: R. Porrofatto on June 16, 2010 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

-Speaking of Bachmann, MSNBC has been pimping Chris Matthew's Teaparty documentary all day, promising many quotes from Michelle, Sarah, Dick Army, Angles, etc.

And Tweety himself says his only appearance will be a comment at the end- reason enough to watch!

The ads make it look like it will be a typical fawning by Tweety over something he sees as being hot politically...like W's flightsuit.

Posted by: howie on June 16, 2010 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

Haley Barbour is looking out for BP, but Michille Bachmann is just nuts.

I really, really want to be on the other side of any politician perceived as carrying water for BP. Keep it up Republicans, keep it up.

Posted by: Ron Byers on June 16, 2010 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

The politics of this thing are fascinating. On the surface it looks like Obama is getting killed. A superficial analysis makes it clear why. Republicans, just under half of the electorate would give him negative ratings for his efforts if he was out there sucking up all the oil personally with a straw and pissing it into a tanker that delivered free gas to everyone. Democrats on the other hand are disappointed that he hasn't found a way to exploit the obvious opportunity to pin this disaster on the failed ideology of conservatism and deregulation. On our failed energy policy and lack of environmental awareness. When you add these two components together, you get abysmally low approval ratings.

But the fact is, just like in the upcoming midterm elections, you can't beat something with nothing. And no matter how low Obama's approval ratings for his handling of this go, in our two party system the alternative to Obama has got to be a Republican. The party of 'Drill Baby Drill'. And the longer this goes on, the more ridiculous these guys seem trying to reconcile their long held ideology with any credible way to deal with problem going forward. No matter how dissatisfied the public might be with Obama's response, no matter how low his approval ratings are driven because of it, the net result will be a complete collapse of support for the Republican world view among independent voters.

Posted by: sw on June 16, 2010 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

Barbour, Bachmann and the rest of the GOP are just looking out for the people, and corporations are people, too.

Posted by: qwerty on June 16, 2010 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

Most of the problems this old world faces are not going to be solved by the Republican's only solution to every problem - tax cuts.

Like Barney Fife, conservatives have only one bullet in their gun!

Posted by: Sam Simple on June 16, 2010 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

Well, yes, it is a "redistribution of wealth fund". It is there to redistribute the wealth from those who caused damage to those who were damaged. Gotta problem with that, Michelle?

Posted by: martin on June 16, 2010 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) disapproves of the idea -- he's apparently worried it will undermine BP profits too much.

What? Is BP "too big to fail"?

Posted by: Marko on June 16, 2010 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

But politically, it's worth keeping an eye on a potential trend -- if Republicans position themselves as the party looking out for BP and the oil industry's interests, there may be political consequences.

Oh, yes, indeed. Because such tactics have always worked out poorly for them in the past. For example... well, I can't think of any.

Posted by: josef on June 16, 2010 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

No, they have indeed settled on a message. Obama bungled the whole thing, and was even responsible for BP's misconduct, however ironically, but not being hard enough on them. But ironically indeed, he and the USDOI were not hard enough on BP etc. Well at least that sets up the seeds of cognitive dissonance, not that the righties care ...

Posted by: neil b on June 16, 2010 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

GOP. BP. SEE, they both have the letter P. That's PROOF that they are in cahoots.

God's Overflowing Petroleum

Posted by: progressive beck on June 16, 2010 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

Marko, the same billionaires that own BP, own Haley Barbour.

Posted by: anomaly on June 16, 2010 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

Silly, silly "progressives."
Nothing but bogeyman attacks on "big oil."
Will that stop the oil from gushing into the gulf?
Will that provide us with alternative sources of energy?

No more than bashing the evil insurance companies does anything to improve the health of Americans.

Or bashing Wall Street has provided anyone with jobs, even after flushing a trillion on "stimulus."

This is what passes for "progressive thinking"--the one bullet in their gun, blame big business or Bush, then spend yourselves blind.

Enjoy your hissy fit of bile and bull. Your brief bamboozling is coming to an end soon.

1) End the bailouts; return unspent stimulus to the treasury; don't bash business, but don't bail them out either.
2) Repeal the "health care deform" fiasco.
3) Shut down Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac which catalyzed the housing market bubble.
3) Develop all American energy sources--oil, coal, nuclear, solar, wind, geothermal. We are not running out of oil or places to drill. Enforce existing safety rules and have contingency plans ready for accidents;
4) Flush the cap & trade (tax) plan, and the meaningless Wall Street "reform." When threats of tax increases and uncertainty generated by the Administration cease, lending will ease, businesses will expand and Americans will see jobs again.
5) Lower spending across the board.

Oh yes, when all that is done in the next Administration, we'll tackle the real problems--unfunded Ponzi schemes of Social Security and Medicare, given to us by earlier generations of "progressive" geniuses and now bankrupting the country.

Posted by: EJM on June 17, 2010 at 10:02 AM | PERMALINK

Well, you can count to five I got to give you that.

Posted by: SW on June 17, 2010 at 10:44 AM | PERMALINK

"When threats of tax increases and uncertainty generated by the Administration cease, lending will ease, businesses will expand and Americans will see jobs again."
Posted by: EJM on June 17, 2010 at 10:02 AM

See, this is further evidence that "the market" -- the collected wisdom of millions of individuals and enterprises, each working in its own interest -- is always going to be "wiser" than any individual, group, or collective, and especially when that collective is governmental in nature, and thus freed from the incentives that the free-market pricing system imposes on everyone else.
Because clearly, with the collapse of the credit markets -- and especially the fall of Lehman Bros -- taking place in September, at a time when the polls favored McCain/Palin over Obama/Biden, the market just knew that Obama would pull it out, and everything went to hell right then because they knew his ultra-left-liberal Socialist policies, enforced by jackbooted IRS health-care-cops and Sierra Club enviro-weenie thugs, were about to despoil the economic landscape, which up to that point, had gone nowhere but up-up-and-more-up in the famous Bush Boom.
Or that McCain, when he won, would turn out to be a Socialist too, just as the Tea Party Movement always knew him to be (RINO that he is, and with that illegitimate black daughter and all).
Damn, but that almighty market is smart!

Posted by: smartalek on June 17, 2010 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

Uh, that is, "September of 2008," of course.

First proof, then post.
First proof, then post.
Maybe one of these days, I'll get it right.

Or not.

Posted by: smartalek on June 17, 2010 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

It was a large misstep that the Us federal government did not avoid the fall of Lehman. In Europe, it continues to be carried out far better, it rescued banks and these days they may be far better off than we are. Reputable U.S. economists are from the very same belief. On the other hand: Immediately after that you are usually smarter.

Posted by: parfum abend on August 18, 2010 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

There will be a lot off mothers and fathers how think the same about this. I'm gay, so i can't be a father, but i think the same about it.

Posted by: online marketing bureau on December 28, 2010 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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