McCain's offshore oil-drilling flip-flop

Is the GOP nominee going out of his way to draw closer to President Bush? Plus: Obama's FISA compromise.

Published June 22, 2008 3:35AM (EDT)

I don't understand John McCain's presidential campaign. I know I'm not his target demographic. But at a time when most people believe he should be distancing himself from the least popular president in modern history, he finds a way to draw closer to George Bush. This week it was his bewildering flip-flop on offshore oil-drilling.

My first job out of college was at a Santa Barbara paper in the early 1980s, where politics was still dominated by a coalition of Democrats and enlightened Republicans horrified by the nightmare of the 1969 oil spill off the coast more than a decade earlier. I came of age believing environmentalism was a bipartisan concern.

That's become harder to believe, of course, but McCain was one of the comparative good guys. On Monday night Al Gore praised him as a rare GOP supporter on climate change issues, while endorsing Barack Obama. Now McCain has sold his soul for the alleged 18 billion barrels of oil we'd have access to if every single inch of coastal oil resources were plundered. That's roughly two years' worth of American oil consumption, and we probably wouldn't have access to most of it during McCain's (increasingly unlikely) presidency. So I don't understand what he's doing, but it's not the first time. (Other flip-flops I don't get: embracing the Bush tax cuts for the very wealthy, saying he now wouldn't vote for his own immigration reform bill, and sucking up to former "agents of intolerance" on the Christian right. In case anyone in the McCain camp cares.) My weekly Current video explores the topic in more depth (text continues below):

But while I'm talking about disappointing political moves by a presidential candidate, I'd be remiss if I ignored Barack Obama's decision to support the tragic House FISA compromise. Obama's promise to work to strike telecom immunity isn't much comfort, as Glenn Greenwald explains here; those forces won't have the votes to strip that language from the bill. The only hope (a forlorn one, I admit) was blocking it. Call me politically unsophisticated, but I was actually surprised by Obama's decision. We'll have more on the issue in the days to come.

By Joan Walsh

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

2008 Elections