Rumor: McCain to Flip Flop Again on Drilling

John McCain is bludgeoning Barack Obama on energy issues that are surely false, but the theme of drilling off our coastlines is gaining steam. Alas, the reason McCain picked up this theme was the extreme high prices at the pump. Now that the prices are lowering, look for another John McCain flip flop.


Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Much has been made of John McCain’s panicked reactions to high gas prices over the last several months. Remember when he called for the gimmicky gas tax holiday? You never hear anything about that nowadays, because it was an imprudent gimmick. That McCain idea was slammed hard on all fronts, even by Dick Cheney. Well, rumor has it that McCain’s recent panicky calls for drilling off every coast of the United States, calls also made in response to higher gas prices, may fade from the McCain campaign as well. It’s a combination of forces that are at work to take this McCain talking point off the table, both the incompetencies in the McCain campaign, and the lowering of gas prices nationwide.

First, McCain planned an event where he would give a major speech on drilling as much as possible off our coasts. He planned the photo op for an oil rig off the coast of Louisiana. Then a couple hurricanes got in the way, so McCain was only able to get out there Tuesday of this week. Yeah, his campaign could have picked a different rig and gotten this done sooner, but they come from the Bush school of incompetency, so this is what we should expect from them, a photo op come so late it is about to step on McCain’s next flip flop, which is surely coming. Note that the message of McCain at his photo op on the oil rig sounds so last month, when prices of gas were through the roof. From the Washington Post:

Standing on the Chevron-operated oil rig, which produces more than 10,000 barrels of oil per day, the presumptive Republican nominee declared that, as president, he would open the nation’s coasts to expanded drilling in a effort to lower gas prices and reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil.

“When I’m president, there will be a whole lot more like this, not only here in the Gulf but also off of our East and West coasts,” McCain said in brief remarks to the media. “We need to drill offshore; we need to do it now.”

Yeah, that message was the same as it was weeks ago when the folks at the McCain campaign first planned the trip. But facts on the ground are changing. The reason McCain first became a tiger on the issue of oil rigs off ever seashore was because gas prices at the pump were out of control, rising well over $4 per gallon, and over $5 in Califonia. Those prices are now down. Gas prices are lower in Philly by significant margins, and they are lower in California, too. Indeed, there’s a spike in US oil supply. Time for a change in strategy for McCain?

Yeah, I started the rumor right here. Expect a McCain flip flop once again. His actions are already showing it. You see, John McCain is already opposed to bipartisan efforts to increase oil drilling off our coasts. Also from the Washington Post:

Democrats on Tuesday were quick to point out McCain’s opposition to a bipartisan effort in Congress that would include increased offshore drilling. In a conference call, Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack accused McCain of being in the pocket of “big oil” companies.

“The reality is that Senator McCain can visit oil rigs and do photo ops all he wants, but it is pretty clear from the policies he’s advocating that he’s literally over the barrel when it comes to the oil industry,” Vilsack said. But McCain is not backing off his support of new drilling, and his visit here was the most striking declaration of that position.

The tour was brief, as officials spent half an hour explaining to him how oil and natural gas are extracted and produced at the rig. He spent more time traveling to the rig than he spent on it, and read his remarks from a sheet of paper an aide had prepared in what was essentially a photo-op at sea.

The reality here is that John McCain’s real energy policy is vague enough, as seen in his energy policy speech of April 23rd, 2007, that it can fit almost anything the guy wants to say, no matter the facts on the ground. That’s not leadership. No, it is not leadership to flip flop all over the map. McCain voted against drilling in ANWR just at the beginning of this year, and now he’s being pressured to flip flop on that. With gas prices going down, I expect him to moderate, at least after he gets as much oil company contributions as he can.

I filled up the rtank at $3.59 yesterday, and the Jersey prices may be down to $3.40 by this weekend when we head to the shore. Oh, the disastrous policies of the Bush Administration, supported by McCain all along the way, are what caused those high prices. Still, if they go down much further McCain won’t be able to use drilling as a campaign theme effectively. Look for him to flip flop once again.

Thursday, August 21st, 2008 by Steven Reynolds |

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