They say timing is everything.
And they are right.
If not for perfect timing, and a near impossible confluence of events, Barack Obama would most certainly not be President.
But he is, and once again, timing has played a huge role in his life.
The question now is whether he possesses true leadership — the internal fire that pushes a man to do great things against almost impossible odds — to turn the largest environmental disaster in American history into one of the greatest opportunities ever to come before a President.
Will Obama have the strength and will to seize this opportunity? If so, he will, more than any other President, free this nation of its dependency on foreign oil, bolster the economy and substantially increase our national security.
The BP oil spill has had tragic consequences, but none greater than the calls to stop drilling, and instead concentrate on "alternative" energy sources.
That would be a huge mistake.
As Freindly Fire noted in a 2008 column:
"Investing in alternative energy is important, to be sure…wind, hydro and solar power initiatives are key, as are battery and electric powered vehicles and machinery. But many of these technologies will require trillions of both public and private funding, and realistically, all are many years away from making a substantial difference. They are all longer-term solutions, and, to be honest, are unproven in how effective their widespread use will be…."
Fact is, we live in something called The Real World, where a tremendous amount of oil is used, with more and more consumed every year. That won’t change, period.
So while "green" solutions are nice, black gold still rules the day.
The quicker we recognize that and focus our primary energies on domestic oil production, the better off we’ll be.
Which national leader innately understands this?
Would it be the oilman George W. Bush or his Halliburton-affiliated sidekick Dick Cheyney? Or is it the patriarch of the Bush family, George Herbert Walker Bush?
None of the above.
Ironically, it is Barack Obama.
The elder Bush signed the moratorium on offshore drilling. His son left it in place for SEVEN years, despite having sizable majorities in both Houses of Congress. Only after fuel costs skyrocketed to over $4.50/gallon did W. call for the lifting of the moratorium.
Too little, too late. And it never happened.
What could have prevented those crippling spikes at the pump?
Offshore drilling — both off the continental shelves and in ANWR (the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge) — and the construction of new refineries, given that the last one was built in 1976.
And what better time to have pushed it through than right after the September 11 attacks.
In addition to having a Republican congress and nearly 100% of the nation behind him, Bush had the world’s goodwill in his corner.
Instead, this nation’s reliance on foreign oil — which is a kind way of saying we are pumping petro dollars into the coffers of some who are hellbent on destroying us — has only increased.
Earlier this year, before the BP spill, Obama proposed that we expand our offshore drilling ventures, and freed up millions of acres of coastal water for exploration and development. In addition, he called for an increase in nuclear power plants across America.
Since Obama is the leader of the Democratic Party, that move took guts.
Most Democrats oppose both initiatives, and some of the Party’s most powerful constituencies, such as the environmental lobby, are stridently supporting their position with millions of dollars and votes.
Nonetheless, Obama pressed on, fighting for issues generally associated with Republicans.
The response from the GOP? They attacked him.
And why? Because, we were told, Obama doesn’t really believe in those things, but was only advocating them to score political points.
Give us a break.
If Republicans can’t stomach the idea of extending a hand to a man willing to engage them on one of THEIR issues, they don’t deserve America’s vote in November.
Their misguided attack strategy stems not from a fundamental difference with the President, but a cover-their-derriere mindset. They want to obscure their failure to push for offshore drilling when they had the votes to make it happen.
For those who believe the talking-head chatter about Barack Obama being a closet Muslim who wants nothing more than to weaken America, pushing for energy independence would seem an odd way to achieve that goal.
The political reality is that it will be extremely difficult for the President to pass his offshore oil and nuclear power initiatives in this term.
The BP spill has weakened America’s resolve to push for more offshore drilling, especially along the mid-Atlantic and California coasts. House and Senate Democratic leadership are overtly hostile to Obama’s ambitions, and Republicans are as clueless as ever on the energy issue.
Nonetheless, if Obama has the tenacity to forge ahead and the political will to bring his ideas to fruition — as he did with national health care, defying the predictions of virtually every political expert — he will be catapulted to the top of the ranks of effective Presidents.
Desperate situations make for heroic acts.
It’s time for the President and our Congress to finally step up to be heroes. It’s time to drill our way to prosperity and security.
The survival of our nation may well depend on it.
Chris Freind is an independent columnist and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com
Readers of his column, "Freindly Fire," hail from six continents, thirty countries and all fifty states. His work has been referenced in numerous publications including The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, foreign newspapers, and in Dick Morris’ recent bestseller "Catastrophe."
Freind also serves as a weekly guest commentator on the Philadelphia-area talk radio show, Political Talk (WCHE 1520), and makes numerous other television and radio appearances. He can be reached at [email protected]