Why Did Obama Decide to Drill, Baby?

| Fri Apr. 2, 2010 10:02 AM EDT

I should have posted this yesterday, but I forgot. On Tuesday night, responding to President Obama's decision to unilaterally open up new offshore drilling tracts, I asked, "Wouldn't he be better off holding this stuff in reserve and negotiating it away in return for actual support, not just hoped-for support?" Well, it turns out that something of a consensus answer has formed about this.

Basically, it goes like this. Sure, Obama could have held out on offshore drilling and used it as a bargaining chip to get some Republican support for an overall climate plan. But no Republican would have made the deal anyway, so it wouldn't have done any good. However, by doing it preemptively, Obama has (a) deprived them of an issue to sputter about this summer, (b) split their ranks, and (c) made himself look like a pretty reasonable guy to the general public. Long story short, this is mostly a long-term play for public opinion, not part of a short-term partisan negotiation.

I'm not sure if I buy this or not. But I just thought I should mention it since I asked the question in the first place.