Since Congress' adjournment on Aug. 1, a gaggle of Republican legislators representing their Grand Old Party have thrown a grandstanding party in the empty chambers of the House, staging a protest that mingles Red State agitprop with medicine show salesmanship. Although their lofty goal in this task is ostensibly to solve the nation's energy crisis, not a single voice has been raised in support of alternative energy measures.
Rather, the protesting lawmakers are exclusively interested in their Paleolithic cure-all of offshore drilling, and are livid over what they view as partisan inaction. As Minnesota's U.S. Rep. John Kline put it, "The House adjourned for a five-week vacation without addressing the most important issue facing America today."
Ignoring for a moment that our president has been on vacation in excess of 500 days without forming a coherent energy policy and that oil companies have untapped acreage larger than the state of Minnesota, one would be hard-pressed to see this as anything less than a political stunt designed to rile up the constituency.
Going back to the election season of 2006, the months leading up to November were punctuated with austere parroting about the irredeemable perversity of gay marriage and the un-American vileness of flag burning. Both of these issues came up for congressional vote in the second half of summer, just in time to supplant concern over losing issues like the wars and the economy. Offshore drilling is this election's gay marriage and flag burning, replete with characteristic ignorance, contempt and sanctimony.
Unfortunately, simply because an issue is frivolous doesn't mean it can't do damage. In 2004, voter anxiety fed by anti-gay marriage furor resulted in 11 states declaring it illegal at the ballot box. Today, our desperation for a resolution to the energy crisis is being preyed upon by our politicians, whose feelgood solutions are exercises in expedient pandering. They promise us relief, when all it would accomplish is enabling companies to prolong the sale of expensive fuel. There is real danger in offshore drilling.