Obama in Knots over Cheney

by Shannen W. Coffin

Barack Obama’s criticism of Vice President Cheney is as incoherent as his energy policy. On the stump yesterday, Obama reportedly “emphasized the key role of Cheney, the unpopular vice president, in President Bush’s energy policy.” According to an AP account, Obama said, “”President Bush, he had an energy policy. He turned to Dick Cheney and he said, ‘Cheney, go take care of this. Cheney met with renewable-energy folks once and oil and gas (executives) 40 times. McCain has taken a page out of the Cheney playbook.”

Obama’s criticism implies that the report of the National Energy Policy Development Group, a Presidentially-appointed working group led by the Vice President, was all drill and no renewable energy. A look at the report itself, which devotes a full chapter to renewable resources, belies that criticism. Indeed, Obama voted for the Bush White House’s energy legislation that stemmed from the report’s recommendations in 2005 — a vote that could be viewed as endearing if he hadn’t more recently flipped on it as well. And as the Hot Air link provided by the inestimable Jim Geraghty at Campaign Spot notes, Obama explained in a Las Vegas TV interview this week that his vote on that bill was motivated by the fact that “this was the largest investment in alternative energy in history.”

So which is it Senator? Is Obama’s complaint about the NEPDG merely grousing about process (a process complaint that led to wasteful federal litigation in which the Vice President ultimately prevailed)? Or is Obama-wan Kenobi playing gutter political games, trying to tar McCain with guilt by association with Cheney? (An association that isn’t particularly supported by the record and with which, by the way, I would be more than happy to be “tarred.”) Either way, it doesn’t jibe with his “the One” narrative.

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