He didn't borrow Sarah Palin's "Drill baby, drill," campaign mantra, but President Obama still surprised critics and backers alike by announcing that parts of the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico were being opened to oil exploration.
"The answer is not drilling everywhere all the time," Obama said in an event at Andrews Air Force Base. "But the answer is not, also, for us to ignore the fact that we are going to need vital energy sources to maintain our economic growth and our security."
Observers on both sides of the debate were caught off guard by the move, with many thinking "that's what she [Palin] said."
- "Drill, baby, drill" Palin tweeted. Later, on the conservative blog, The Corner, she changed the catchphrase to "Stall, Baby, Stall," predicting any drilling will be delayed by "burdensome new environmental regulations." "I’ve got to call it like I see it: The administration’s sudden interest in offshore drilling is little more than political posturing designed to gain support for job-killing energy legislation soon to come down the pike. I’m confident that GOP senators will not take the bait," she wrote.
- The New York Times gave Obama's plan tepid approval, writing in a house editorial that he "struck a sensible middle ground." "He announced a decision to expand oil and gas exploration in selected areas of America’s coastal waters that will satisfy neither extreme but is, on the whole, a careful and useful addition to the steps he has already taken to reduce the nation’s energy dependence," the Times noted.
- Politico's Glenn Thrush and Lisa Lerer analyzed the move from a political perspective, crediting Obama with "pulling off a small political coup – one you could even call triangulation lite." "By announcing the policy change, Obama defused a potentially potent Republican issue ahead of the summer gas spike and the fall midterms, while embracing major elements of the GOP’s 'all of the above' energy approach to kick-start a stalled climate change bill," they wrote.
- On the left, blogger Matt Yglesias questioned the political savvy behind the policy. "This isn’t the greatest environmental crime in human history, but it sure does seem like poor legislative strategy," he wrote.
- On the far left, environmentalists felt like they were kicked in the face. Morgan Goodwin, writing on The Huffington Post, felt Obama's young supporters were "being sold out by the Obama administration in a misguided attempt to curry political favor."
- On the far right, the decision was met with cynicism. Lonely Conservative wrote that the move was merely "symbolic." "I’m thinking he’ll allow the oil companies to do the heavy lifting before he swoops in and nationalizes the industry. That, and he’s trying to get moderates to go along with cap and tax."