Offshore Drilling–In Exchange for What?

Offshore Drilling–In Exchange for What?

Offshore Drilling–In Exchange for What?

Christopher Hayes discusses the political strategy behind Obama’s recent endorsement of offshore drilling.


After Obama’s recent endorsement of offshore drilling, plenty of Republicans have challenged the very policy they strongly supported in the presidential election. Last night on her show, Rachel Maddow notes that though some Republican senators, including Lindsey Graham and John McCain, have come out with “mildly supportive” statements in favor of this “very Republican idea,” she can’t help but ask what the Democrats are getting out of their support for offshore drilling. Maddow puts the question to The Nation‘s Washington editor Christopher Hayes.

Hayes agrees with Maddow’s opinion that after healthcare, there is no reason to start out making concessions to win Republican support, but Hayes offers three reasons why Obama may be trying.

The first is that Obama is a true believer in negotiating, that “he’s going to try to will that to be the case…expecting that somehow the magical negotiating fairy will show up and prompt the Republicans to similarly act in good faith,” Hayes explains. The second is just poor politics. The third is that eventually the American people will realize that Obama is trying to be a fair and honest politician. “Politically, the idea is [that] you’re constantly extending an olive branch and you’re constantly getting slapped in the face and eventually you do that enough the American people will realize who’s the one operating in good faith,” Hayes explains. The problem with this strategy, Hayes says, is that it produces bad legislation and shifts the debate toward the center. “So all of a sudden…things that were kind of settled, centrist ideas, like we shouldn’t torture or we should close Guantánamo…in trying to move towards them you’ve shifted the parameters of the conversation over.”

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