Why McCain should oppose drilling in ANWR

June 20, 2008

Why McCain needs to stand firm on ANWR

No policy can ever be set in stone in absolute terms. For instance, I firmly support a much stronger stance against Iran, including military action if needed, and I think that the Bush tax cuts were unsustainable. However, if Iran changed its government, was willing to stop supporting terrorists in Iraq and abandoned thoughts of a nuclear programme, a diplomatic solution might suffice. Similarly, I strongly believe that tax cutting made sense in the early Reagan era when marginal rates were punative (and there was a case for some sort of tax cuts at the end of the Clinton presidency. Context is, as always, going to be king. It could possibly even be argued that the rapid spike in oil prices makes more extensive drilling a sensible policy. In fact I have to say that set against the life and liberty of twenty million Iraqis (and seven million Israelis) I couldn’t frankly care less about the fate of a few polar bears in Alaska (not least because I don’t live in Alaska). However, flipping on ANWR, or even wobbling, is bad political strategy for McCain. This is because his opposition to drilling in the Alaskan wilderness reserve was one of the defining issues that symbolised his differences with the Republican party.

Right now, McCain needs to maintain (and even emphasise) such differences, even on the symbolic level. Indeed, if he is not ready to start advocating comprehensive immigration reform again, or reminding voters of his battles on behalf of Middle Class America, then the least he can do is not to make yet more concessions to the right wing on his party. Henry Kissinger is not someone who I either respect or agree with but trying to appeas ‘the base’ with further concessions on domestic policy is like trying to quench one thirst with salted peanuts. This doesn’t mean that he has to ignore their concerns, and he could do a talk a lot more about soft values (starting with a plan to prevent any more school children following in the steps of those young hussies in Massachusetts) but he needs to make sure that he is not seen overreacting to events and that he needs to stand up for what he believes in.


One comment

  1. Oh, HELL no is that ever gonna happen!

    Don’t let that carsick-green background of his fool you; McCain is no friend to the environment.

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