Politics as Usual, Flip-Flop or Ability To Compromise?

Politics as Usual, Flip-Flop or Ability To Compromise? August 3, 2008

Obama says he still is opposed to drilling off-shore for oil, but he is willing to support it in a compromise bi-partisan energy bill. He is saying it is a pragmatic decision on his part. 

How do you read this? Is it politics as usual, saying one thing and doing something else? Is he flip-flopping? Or is he showing us that he intends to be bi-partisan if he gets into office, and he is willing to listen to other voices than his own?

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  • MJO

    I, too, was a bit perplexed as to the meaning of Obama’s statement regarding offshore drilling. My visceral response was, “this guy will say anything to get elected.” But after some thought, with the realization that Obama is a very talented and calculating politician (this is a compliment, btw), I have come to a different conclusion. Obama realizes we need a seismic shift in the way we think about energy in this country. But this cannot be done overnight. So if it takes some more oil from our own reserves for a bit while we figure out other solutions, he is okay with that.

  • Mark DeFrancisis

    He would get killed politically in the short term if he were to let McCain run w/ his own shift of positionin this regard this election cycle.

    This is a “gas tax holiday” on steroids. No real long term solution and bad for the environment.

  • jh

    Uf he means it is a great common sense. You wiill need the oil to as we go about switching over to what never resources come online. It also gets the bill out of Congress.

    I have been saying all along why not do both so we can get movement and get this going

  • david

    With fifteen percent of my net income going to gas (big family=big car), I’m all for increasing supply. I have no idea if the environmental consequences of more drilling make my call for more taps unreasonable. I’m thinking only of my bottom line, which is ever getting smaller.

  • To answer my own question, I think it is many things at once. It is politics, in the true sense, where people with different positions get together, and find a way to work with each other despite those positions. However, I think an element of what Obama is doing here is he realizes how easy it would be for McCain to press on the oil/gas concerns if he didn’t do any sense of compromise, and so I don’t think it necessarily means he will be open to other such compromises in the future.

    What people have said here is also reasonable: we need to find a new energy source, but until we do, we need to do something. I don’t think this is necessarily the best way to go, but I also think, it might have been the only option people would consider. Consumerists don’t want to learn how not to be consumerists, after all.

  • RR

    I’ve heard pundits predict this flip-flop. With the price of gas now, it would’ve been politically impossible for him, and Democrats in general, to oppose off-shore drilling. The new term is “environmentally-responsible drilling.”

  • I’m thinking only of my bottom line…

    Sadly, though, this is not how we are called to approach such issues.

  • little gal

    He’s doing everything he can to move to the center because of what the polls indicate. Per today’s Rasmussen daily poll:

    “This Sunday, the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll shows the race still very close with Obama attracting 44% of the vote while McCain earns 43%. When “leaners” are included, it’s Obama 47% and McCain 46%”

    Obama’s next move will be to select a prochoice female Catholic as his running mate, while the bishops’ statement on “Forming Consciences of Faithful Citizenship,” is written to suggest that Catholics can vote for a prochoice candidate. See following link:

    Rumor is that McCain’s top VP choice is Tom Ridge.

  • Kurt

    There is nothing wrong with developing solutions rather than accept gridlock. While details still remain unresolved, it is to Senator Obama’s credit that he is helping promote this workable initiative. Off shore oil drilling will be limited and will have important environmental protections in place. In turn the Republicans in the ‘group of ten’ have agreed to several Democratic proposals for conservation and development of renewable energy sources. Good.

    One of the attributes that makes Senator Obama an appealling candidate for president is that he is a devotee (I’m a humble working stiff, so I have no idea how to put an accent mark on that word or if it is needed) of an approach that has been very helpful in labor-management negotiations called “interest based negotiations.” The principle is that parties don’t start off by indentifying their positions and negotiate from there, but their first indentify their interests. In this case, Obama and the ‘group of 10’ have rightfully moved the discussion from the positions of for or against new off-shore drilling to the interests of the parties — 1) new oil supplies, and 2) protection of the environment.

  • David Nickol

    . . . . while the bishops’ statement on “Forming Consciences of Faithful Citizenship,” is written to suggest that Catholics can vote for a prochoice candidate.

    For anyone to say otherwise at this point would be to contradict what has been said up to this point. There is practically a mathematical formula now for Catholics voting in elections with pro-choice candidates. The only think there seems to be disagreement on is the quantity “proportionate reasons.”

    Regarding offshore drilling, it seems perfectly reasonable to be open to the possibility of a compromise to obtain a comprehensive energy package. What I have heard Obama say up until this point is that offshore drilling is not the solution to the problem of our dependence on oil. Everyone who is paying attention knows that there would be no impact on oil prices or the oil supply for the next several years, and that the effect on the price of a gallon of gas would be a few cents. That doesn’t mean offshore drilling must be categorized as “intrinsically evil.” It must means what Obama has been saying. It’s not the solution to the current problem.

  • Mark DeFrancisis

    If I were a betting man, I’d put my life’s savings on Joe Biden as Obama’s VP pick.

  • blackadderiv


    Intrade currently has Biden at around 10%. If you were to bet and he ended up being Obama’s pick, you could make a killing.

    Tom Ridge is also at around 10%, btw, behind Romney, Pawlenty, and Palin.

  • Mark DeFrancisis


    I am a notoriously bad gambler! 😉

  • Zak

    If he were to actually support a change, rather than just consider it, it would clearly be a flip-flop (in the sense of a change of positions), but a reasonable one, given the likelihood that oil will remain a necessary part of the economy for some time. I’ve changed my position (in the sense that I support letting states decide whether they want to allow it – I’m not sure if I want my state-Virginia-to permit drilling) because I think it’s a reasonable concession to make. As part of a compromise package that promotes renewable resources and nuclear energy as well, I think it makes a lot of sense. Politics requires compromise.

    It’s also a good political move, since it neutralizes one of McCain’s only successful policy critiques.

    As for VP (which some have mentioned), I think Obama picks Biden as well, although I’ve heard a lot of talk about Kaine. It’s interesting that pro-choice Catholics are the top three mentioned choices. Biden’s take on the issue is a little different than most – he discusses Aquinas’s thinking about abortion and quickening to argue that the Church’s position hasn’t been constant, so of course Catholics should not impose their current beliefs on others. I don’t buy it, of course, but it presents a challenge to pro-lifers. Biden did vote in favor of the federal partial birth abortion ban, but then he seemed to criticize the Supreme Court decision upholding the law.