Pelosi Urges Dems To Hedge on Off-Shore Drilling

| Tue Aug. 5, 2008 1:00 PM EDT

Last week, Sen. Obama raised eyebrows by suggesting he would back off-shore drilling, despite House Speaker Pelosi's long-held opposition to opening the coastline. Some feared the policy difference would lead to a split and tension within the party.

It turns out, however, that Pelosi has been quietly urging fellow Democrats to publicly split with her on the issue and support off-shore drilling in order to gain political points for the coming elections. It may be a somewhat duplicitous strategy, but more Democratic seats in Congress would mean greater ability to pass comprehensive energy legislation, even if it does come at the cost of coastal drilling.

Pelosi's plan, it seems, is to publicly present a Democratic Congress divided over allowing off-shore drilling, enticing Republicans to offer more compromises on energy legislation than they otherwise would to woo hard-line Democrats. The strategy also allows Democrats up for reelection to appear independently minded on energy.

—Max Fisher