While the new GOP majority in Congress seems afraid to attempt anything they promised in order to get elected, Obama seems to have a rather definite strategy in mind for keeping Congress from focusing on real issues. He’s going to barrage them with meaningless distractions. For instance:
The Obama administration will propose setting aside more than 12 million acres in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as wilderness, the White House announced Sunday, halting any chance of oil exploration for now in the refuge’s much-fought-over coastal plain and sparking a fierce battle with Republicans, including the new chair of the Senate Energy Committee.
“Alaska’s National Wildlife Refuge is an incredible place — pristine, undisturbed. It supports caribou and polar bears, all manner of marine life, countless species of birds and fish, and for centuries it supported many Alaska Native communities. But it’s very fragile,” President Obama said in a White House video on the move.
The announcement, according to individuals briefed on the plan, is just the first in a series of decisions the Interior Department will make in the coming week that will affect the state’s oil and gas production. The department will also put part of the Arctic Ocean off limits to drilling as part of a five-year leasing plan it will issue this week and is considering whether to impose additional limits on oil and gas production in parts of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.
As has been established in every round of fighting over drilling in ANWR, modern drilling has a very small footprint and wildlife has been shown to benefit from the human intrusion. This seems to be based less on any concern for the land than a way of drawing a response from nominal Republicans, like Lisa Murkowski:
“What’s coming is a stunning attack on our sovereignty and our ability to develop a strong economy that allows us, our children and our grandchildren to thrive,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), the new chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said in a statement. “It’s clear this administration does not care about us, and sees us as nothing but a territory. . . . I cannot understand why this administration is willing to negotiate with Iran, but not Alaska. But we will not be run over like this. We will fight back with every resource at our disposal.”.
who after a little bit of needling by Obama cronies:
Speaking to reporters in India Monday, Podesta said that while GOP lawmakers had opposed several of Obama’s previous executive actions, “I was hoping that a more balanced reaction would be forthcoming from some of the people who have commented on this.”
“So we hope that we can find cooperation so that that wilderness designation ultimately can go through in the Congress,” Podesta added. “But we don’t think that the reaction that particularly Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) had to this announcement was warranted.”
can be expected to devote time and energy to fighting a “proposal” that may very well never materialize and may never have been serious in the first place. We can expect to see this played out again and again in the next Congress as Obama takes actions, real or proposed, that are calculated to tweak individual members of the GOP or sections of the GOP base. Juvenile, to be sure, but hardly the most dangerous thing he’s done in office.