Obama also notes that some in the business community and on the right wil say he didn’t go far enough. And he makes his now-familiar argument that his decision represents a pragmatic middle ground between opposing sides that are imprisoned by ideology:
Ultimately, we need to move beyond the tired debates between right and left, between business leaders and environmentalists, between those who would claim drilling is a cure all and those who would claim it has no place. Because this issue is just too important to allow our progress to languish while we fight the same old battles over and over again.
The substance of Obama’s decision aside, drawing this equivalence between right and left on climate change issues risks antagonizing environmentalists.
The dilemma for the White House is two-fold. First off, the President, not even two years ago, was one of those who claimed that offshore oil drilling had no place. For him to today take the moral high ground, and label those who opposed drilling as “tired,” and part of the problem, rings a bit odd.
Remember when, the during the campaign, then candidate Obama said that you could save as much from simply inflating your car tires as you could from offshore drilling?
The second problem is that the White House is in the process of antagonizing yet another key Democratic constituency. It’s not entirely clear how, in effect, demonizing environmentalists helps to inspire a new generation of young people, most of whom seem themselves as environmentalists. If the President had been for offshore drilling during the campaign, then his current position, while misguided, would be understandable. But, as in the health care debate, gay rights, and other issues, the President stakes out one position, then later goes back on it, and the people simply asking the President to keep his promise are demonized as unrealistic or extreme.
Democrats are not extreme for simply expecting the President to stay true to his word.