The Corner

That 70s Show

 My column on energy argy-bargy is up. The opener:

You may have noticed that denouncing the “failed policies of the past” has become the official catechism of the Democratic party.

Heck, it wouldn’t surprise me if at DNC headquarters “gesundheit” is out as the polite response to a sneeze and tsk-tsking the rise in nose-tickling particulates thanks to the bankrupt policies of the Bush administration is in.

So, you’d think if everything Bush has done is wrong, then a reversal of his position would be right.

Wrong again. We didn’t hear applause from Democrats this week when President Bush “reversed” his “longstanding position” (in the words of the New York Times) on offshore drilling.

Nearly 30 years ago, Jimmy Carter’s windfall-profits tax kicked in, making domestic oil exploration more difficult and expensive. In 1981, Congress passed a moratorium on offshore drilling that has stayed in place ever since. In 1990, the first President Bush signed an executive order reinforcing the ban on coastal oil exploration. And, until this week, the current President Bush supported the ban.

And yet, no cheers for Bush when he abandoned his failed policy of the last eight years. Instead, Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid sniffed that these were more of the same “old ideas.” Odd.

And when John McCain similarly reversed himself, the Democrats whistled the same tune again.

“John McCain’s plan to simply drill our way out of our energy crisis is the same misguided approach backed by President Bush that has failed our families for too long and only serves to benefit the big oil companies,” declared the Obama campaign.

Now, it’s fair to say that more drilling is the approach President Bush wanted. And it’s even defensible for Obama to call it misguided. But the salient fact is that Bush didn’t get what he wanted because he was constrained by the real failed policies of the past.

Indeed, we constantly hear we can’t drill our way to lower gas prices, but how does anybody know when we haven’t even tried?

Update: A reader responds:

You’re right, it is that 70s show all over again, but it’s the GOP that’s stuck in failure, looking to the past (fossil fuels) rather than the future (clean energy).


Want a perfect encapsulation of the true folly of the 70s (and the failure to learn from the Oil Embargo) – look no further than your demi-god Ronnie, who actually used taxpayer money to remove solar panels from the White House and effectively crushed alternative energy funding so that we’re still at least 10 years behind Japan and Europe.


The oil embargo was a shot across our bow, and the Gipper responded by ensuring that we remained beholden to OPEC.  On the other hand, if we’d listened to Al 15 years ago and ramped up the federal tax on gas to encourage conservation and fund alternate energy research (double bonus!), we wouldn’t be in this fix right now.  We’d be years ahead of where we are now with NEW technologies for efficiency and cleaner energy sources.  I’m sure NR (being all “forward thinking” and such) didn’t criticize him at all for that.


Make no mistake, the way is forward – to new sources of energy and increased efficiency through advancing technology – not backward – to the GOP’s solution of “more oil please” as the answer to all problems.  Ironic that you can’t tell backwards from forwards, but then again, your job as a flack is to convince people that up is down and black is white, so I shouldn’t be surprised when you convince yourself as well. (“Remember Jerry, it’s not a lie if you believe it.”)


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