Jeffrey D. Sadow is an associate professor of political science at Louisiana State University Shreveport. If you're an elected official, political operative or anyone else upset at his views, don't go bothering LSUS or LSU System officials about that because these are his own views solely.
This publishes Sunday through Thursday with the exception of 7 holidays. Also check out his Louisiana Legislature Log especially during legislative sessions (in "Louisiana Politics Blog Roll" below).
As days go by and the Pres. Barack Obama Administration continues to engage in perplexing policy regarding the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, it becomes clearer that it is part of a political strategy where Democrats are going “all in” ideologically speaking at the expense of immediate electoral consequences.
Given the vast negative opinion nationally , and especially in Louisiana, about the moratorium on deepwater oil exploration imposed by Obama, one might think that this would have been abandoned, particularly as the judiciary gave Obama a chance to retreat by striking down the first ban, twice, and additionally given its enormous costs and incredible overreach that its six months not only are far longer than needed to inspect and reapir but also likely actually reduces safety. (Of course, the entire exercise already has been compromised by Obama’s creative license in using expert opinion.) Yet it continues, and stealthily has acquired a near-moratorium on all new drilling including that in shallow water.
In Louisiana, the ban is suppressing the victory chances of Democrat candidates this fall. The last thing Rep. Charlie Melancon, a vocal ban opponent, needs is a reminder to voters the president from his party for no good reason is damaging a significant part of the state’s economy and that he has no influence to stop it. The small chance of Democrats retaining Melancon’s current spot representing the Third District, the epicenter of the labor force for the oil exploration industry, has about evaporated because of the ban. And nationally this cannot help Democrats against the increasingly-likely chance they will lose control of at least one chamber of Congress in national elections.
This joins another odd decision on the surface, the Obama Administration’s refusal to waive the Merchant Marine (Jones) Act of 1920. Even though the spill finally might have been stopped and skimming near the leak has the greatest utility, now the necessity of this action has increased. The law prevents foreign vessels, such as skimmers, from operating out of U.S. ports (instead of in transshipment with a foreign port as a destination). Even if foreign skimmers can find a way around the law by coming and going from the same U.S. port and skimming more than three miles offshore, the fact is at this stage in the crisis oil is hitting shore and skimming within three miles now needs to be done. Still, despite state and local governments complaining about the lack of skimmers available, no waiving has occurred despite at least one request to do so (The Administration asserts publicly the Act does not apply and its has had no requests.)
Why is Obama so dogmatic on this issue, even as it looks to be causing his party and him electorally? Perhaps because, just as Gov. Bobby Jindalhas gone all in on a strategy of defending the coastline through the uncertain (but to date, largely successful) tactic of using sand berms (initially resisted by the Administration as it made its actions look even less flattering), Obama has gone all in with these policies consistent with his strategy of liberalism’s advancement he hopes to achieve by the tactic of ramming home radically-liberal policy despite electoral consequences. It’s the line he apparently took on shoving into law against large public opposition health care insurance changes that look to reduce quality at higher cost as a stepping stone to universal government-run health care that permits more consolidation and control of people’s lives under government.
Obama bears little political cost by continuing to put special interests such as environmentalist extremists, who demand significant reduction in, if not total elimination of, offshore oil extraction, and unions and some shippers, who support the Jones Act, ahead of the peoples of the Gulf Coast. Of the involved states, these issues only really affect Louisiana, and Democrats have reconciled themselves to the fact that Melancon’s campaign and retaining his district were longshots to begin with. With the issue reverberating more weakly across the country as a whole, Obama and Democrats gamble that, despite their actions, they will retain control of Congress and then use that in the next couple of years to leverage off the moratorium to reshape energy policy as a whole more to their liking.
As the most leftist presidential administration in history, chock full of true believers, Obama’s crew takes a millennial view on things. They are willing to take a short term hit if they believe it pays off long term for the cause. What to us seems electorally irrational simply may be a case of one step back to get two steps forward.