What power politics looks like
As I left for vacation a week ago (hi, I’m back!), I was thinking Republican strategy on energy couldn’t get much nastier. Of course I was wrong.
The right is convinced that drilling is its ace in the hole — enough to reverse declining Republican fortunes, maybe even enough to turn a few elections. They’ve decided the best thing they can do is a) maximize their demands for drilling and b) block any actual energy legislation so they can c) claim that Democrats’ refusal to drill is responsible for gas prices. It’s utterly and openly mendacious, from top to bottom — based on a lie that has been widely and publicly debunked, many, many times. But the brilliant insight of the post-Gingrich right is that in politics, facts are epiphenomenal. Message is everything.
The pinnacle — so far anyway — was blocking the renewable tax credits for the final time this session, flushing U.S. jobs and investment down the toilet despite pleas from business groups, investors, and local and state politicians of both parties. This is a slap in the face, a calling of the bluff. You almost have to admire the power politics. It’s brutally effective.
It hardly needs saying, but you would never, ever see Democrats doing this — holding together and insisting, against pressure from elites, against decorum or comity, against economic sense, on getting exactly what they want, even at the expense of completely grinding the legislative process to a halt. You never get implacable intransigence like this deployed to noble ends.
And what does the media tell the public? Energy legislation is stalled because of "partisan bickering." Awesome.