That political phrase is fast approaching "Read My Lips, No New Taxes" territory, but its message is infinitely more important. The need to become energy independent is an absolute, since America’s increasing reliance on foreign oil threatens its national and economic security like never before.
With fuel prices skyrocketing, millions of jobs are threatened, and petro dollars flow from the United States to countries which wouldn’t shed a tear over another 9/11.
Because no new oil refineries or nuclear power plants have been constructed in over three decades, one leader in particular has been attempting to reduce America’s insatiable appetite for imported oil. Last year, he opened up over 500,000 square miles of coastal waters to oil and gas exploration for the first time in over twenty years, including the Atlantic Coast, the eastern Gulf of Mexico and northern Alaska.
He summed up why: "The bottom line is this: given our energy needs, in order to sustain economic growth, produce jobs, and keep our businesses competitive, we’re going to need to harness traditional sources of fuel even as we ramp up production of new sources of renewable, homegrown energy."
In addition, this politician said, "I will tap our natural-gas reserves, invest in clean coal technology and find ways to safely harness nuclear power."
It’s no surprise that this call for drilling was a "bitter disappointment for environmentalists and Democrats," as one press report noted.
The surprise, however, is that this leader happens to be the head of the Democratic Party – –none other than President Barack Obama.
Obama’s actions — pushing nuclear power in particular, as he arranged loan guarantees for two new plants — are akin to a conservative Republican calling for a ban on handguns. The Democratic Party has long been captive to the radical environmentalist wing, who view Obama’s push for oil and nuclear as nothing short of treasonous.
One would think that if these folks are labeling Obama’s efforts a "betrayal," the GOP would be embracing the President on what has traditionally been part of the Republican platform.
One would be wrong.
From the 2008 campaign to the 2010 State Of The Union address, where energy independence was a major theme, the standard Republican responses have been, "Well, he really doesn’t believe that," and "his plan doesn’t go far enough."
Far enough? From what? The standard GOP policy of America bent over a Middle Eastern barrel?
Even the Tea Parties are not immune. The President recently toured a wind turbine manufacturing plant in Bucks County, using the occasion to further tout his energy policy. One of that region’s largest Tea Party organizations staged a rally, billing their event as a protest to Obama "discouraging domestic oil production" by "ignoring the necessity to drill for oil in our vast national reserves."
Hey, never let facts get in the way of the truth.
The intransigence of the Republicans to run with what should be their core issue is simply incomprehensible. And while energy independence should never be a partisan issue, given that it affects our future more than anything else, it is clearly obtainable only if the GOP/Obama version is executed.
Alternative energy sources are most certainly important, but will never produce anything remotely close to the nation’s energy needs. The indisputable fact is that black gold, natural gas and nuclear will always be the mainstay, at least until a new source is discovered.
But what has the GOP done, both when it had majorities and after it lost them? Nothing positive.
George W. Bush could have opened up the ANWR in Alaska with virtually no opposition had he called for such in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. Instead, it took him seven years to call for lifting the offshore drilling moratorium put in place by… the first President Bush. Too little, too late.
During a radio interview I conducted in March 2010, a Pennsylvania Republican congressman actually said he couldn’t introduce an offshore drilling bill because he was "in the minority." Sorry, but Civics 101 says otherwise. Any bill can be introduced; the issue is whether it would make it out of Committee. The political leverage would come from pitting the obstructionist Democratic Congress against its own President. But that never happened.
And then-Minority Leader John Boehner’s response to Obama’s plan? Nothing but rebuke rooted in pure partisanship. "It’s long past time for this Administration to stop delaying American energy production off all our shores and start listening to the American people who want an "all of the above" strategy to produce more American energy," he has said. But Boehner’s rubber never met the road. Not when the GOP controlled the Congress and White House. Not when they were in the Minority. And not now.
Where were the Tea Party folks and Obama-bashers when the Republicans did nothing to achieve energy independence, despite holding all the cards? They had better be careful, because selective memory and deliberate inconsistencies are the hallmarks for losing all credibility with The Great American Middle.
Is the President’s plan perfect? Of course not. The rigs in the Gulf still sit idle, moratoriums still exist, and drilling in the ANWR isn’t on the President’s agenda. It’s inexplicable and inexcusable that his willingness to explore options for energy independence has been met with a Republican brick wall.
Whether it’s pure partisanship, a GOP tactic to win the Senate and White House next year, or simply the insular nature of Congress, the inability to make energy the number one issue is catastrophic. The huge growth platform that energy independence creates is the ONLY way for America to solve its budgetary woes.
Yet nothing happens.
The current inaction pushes the nation further into the red, endangering Americans’ welfare in an unprecedented fashion.
The ugly reality is that the USA may soon stand for United States Of Arabia.
Doesn’t have quite the same ring, does it?
Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, 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 recent bestseller "Catastrophe."
Freind, whose column appears regularly in Philadelphia Magazine and nationally in Newsmax, also serves as a frequent guest commentator on talk radio and state/national television, most notably on FOX Philadelphia. He can be reached at [email protected]