New GOP energy message — same as the old GOP energy message

You know your party has run out of ideas when the media writes post-election stories headlined, “ENERGY POLICY: GOP message likely to remain the same as party looks to rebuild” (subs. req’d).

The motto of the conservative movement stagnation is apparently “They have learned nothing, and they have forgotten nothing.” According to the story:

But several prominent party officials said they believe the GOP’s message is fundamentally sound when it comes to energy policy, pointing to that issue as one of the few political bright spots in recent years.

No, seriously, this is not another Onion article. “Several prominent party officials” apparently are convinced that “Drill baby, drill” is “one of the few political bright spots” for the party. And you thought Sarah Palin was scary?

It shows you just how out of touch GOP leaders are from the imminent reality of peak oil and irreversible, catastrophic climate change — although, as we have seen, the entire GOP electorate is similarly out of touch (see “64% of GOP voters say Palin is their top choice for 2012, 69% say Palin helped McCain.”

The article is full of this kind of self-deception, which traditionally marks a party and an ideology in decline. So the whole piece is worth excerpting if for no other reason than its anthropological value to the FHA (Future Historians of America):

As Republicans look to create a new political identity in the wake of a second consecutive drubbing at the polls, one area where the party does not appear likely to shine the spotlight is energy policy.

Top party officials have publicly started talking about the need for Republicans to go through a major overhaul — one that could take years and possibly involve at least some changes in what the party stands for and how it communicates with voters.

There are a wide variety of ideas from various corners about what the party should stand for, with some arguing the GOP needs to return to its conservative roots and others pushing to reach out to moderates that have abandoned the party in the last two election cycles.

At this point, it is impossible to predict just what kind of Republican Party will emerge out of its effort to recreate itself or even who the individuals will be that one day could lead the GOP back in the majority.

But several prominent party officials said they believe the GOP’s message is fundamentally sound when it comes to energy policy, pointing to that issue as one of the few political bright spots in recent years.

To be sure, it is unlikely that the party will rebuild itself to any large extent around energy policy — the issue typically only matters to a significant number of voters when prices spike and often fades from the political radar fairly quickly after they decline.

At the same time, Republican leaders see their message on energy policy as a building block of the party’s platform as they prepare to face life outside the White House and in the minority in Congress.

“I think we need to get back to this idea, the big tent party,” said Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.). “We can disagree on some of the issues but what we should stand for is limited government, lower taxes, balancing the budget, paying down some of this national debt, a strong national defense and an energy policy that makes sense for the country … those kind of solid issues that I believe we can come together as a party and build back.”

The core of the GOP’s energy message was the slogan “all-of-the above” — a call to increase domestic production of all energy supplies regardless of whether they are conventional fossil fuels or renewables.

Thank goodness E&E News included the word “slogan” in the previous sentence. The GOP has never actually supported an “all-of-the-above” energy strategy — they just like the slogan or, as I call it, the Big Energy Lie, see “The Big Energy Lie.”

But for political purposes, the debate between the two parties often revolved around increased oil drilling, and to a lesser extent items such as nuclear power, coal to liquids and refinery construction.

But now there is little that Republicans can do to actually turn those items into actual laws. Democrats are poised to hold at least 255 House seats and 57 Senate seats — the kind of numbers that could allow the majority to force through an agenda with little cooperation with Republicans.

“We’re in a totally new environment now,” said House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.). “Now we’re probably back to just our principals, that’s the only resource we have left.”

At the same time, Republicans say they view energy policy as one of those principals and an area where they will have a clear opportunity to articulate a position that will resonate with voters.

“It really got us back into the national conversation,” Blunt said of the GOP’s energy message. “Until we started talking about energy, people had just stopped listening to us.”

One such test of the GOP approach could come fairly early on, as both sides predict there will be a push by Democrats in early 2009 to restate at least a part of the offshore drilling moratorium that Republicans forced off the books last year. That single area is the most obvious and high-profile difference between Republicans and Democrats on energy policy.

“It’s going to be a very interesting opening test because if their idea of an energy policy is to reimpose the moratorium on offshore drilling or substitute some flim-flam plan like before, it is going to be the first point of contradiction with our good friends on left,” said Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), who headed the GOP’s campaign efforts in the House.

The repeal of the moratorium was perhaps the GOP’s biggest political victory of the last two years — not only did they force House Democrats to cave on an issue that many staunchly opposed but it also gave their candidates momentum in contests across the country.

That momentum did not last as the economic crisis quickly overwhelmed all other topics on the campaign trail, but the party is also confident that when the issue rears its head again, the public will still be on their side.

“Energy issues created a Republican opening this summer that only the financial crisis eclipsed,” Cole said. “The issue could have been very valuable without that.

“Americans figured out last summer they don’t like $4 gasoline, they don’t want to be dependent on foreign countries, they’re willing to make sacrifices,” Cole added.

What? The guy who “headed the GOP’s campaign efforts in the House” says that “Americans figured out last summer … they’re willing to make sacrifices.” It may seem hard to believe at a time we are fighting a war in the Persian Gulf, but the “sacrifices” Cole is apparently talking about is allowing offshore drilling, which is not a sacrifice (except possibly of our coastal environment), but rather a cruel hoax. With this guy in charge, no wonder the House GOP took its second consecutive bloodbath.

Beyond offshore drilling, Republicans appear likely to try to push President-elect Barack Obama on issues such as clean coal and nuclear power.

On the campaign trail, Obama said he supported the development of both of those resources and clean coal in particular is a major issue for a politically valuable section of the U.S. electorate. But his position on those issues clashes with environmentalists and other Democratic leaders.

From Blunt’s perspective, those factions will not allow the Democrats to craft the kind of energy policy that the public would support. “I think energy is still a huge issue. That’s a huge engine to develop a stable U.S. economy,” he said. “My guess is their side cannot pursue that agenda.”

Guess again, Blunt.

Related Posts:

3 Responses to New GOP energy message — same as the old GOP energy message

  1. Norris Hall says:

    The US needs to look to other more reliable energy source than oil
    Last year oil was at 70 dollars a barrel. This year it spiked to 140 dollars a barrel. Last week it was down to 60 dollars and this week its up to 64.
    Gyrations in oil prices don’t follow any supply and demand scenario.
    Drilling for more oil won’t unhinge gasoline prices from the crazy ups and downs.
    Business that rely on gasoline need a more stable reliable source of energy. With oil as a commodity they have no way of knowing if they’ll be doing a booming business or filing for bankruptcy next year.
    We need to put a floor under gasoline prices. They’ve been doing that for years in Europe and Japan

  2. John Mashey says:

    Well, this is another reason why some us think that we must be electrifying as much of the transport system as possible, as fast as we can.

    In an economic system in which:

    a) GDP growth depends importantly on energy, and oil price spikes tend to encourage recessions. The current one may be caused by other things, but Jeff Rubin of CIBC thinks oil has something to do with it, and from past articles of his, I at least listen to what he says.

    b) Oil production is at or near peak, with relatively little spare capacity (yes, there is some now, just not much).

    c) Random events (hurricanes, terrorism, politics) can suddenly drop production.

    the likely result is inherent instability. This is very similar to what one finds in computer system performance when adding load, moving from “enough, smooth” to “barely enough, unstable”, i.e., behavior develops wild oscillations and “drops off a cliff”.