For some time the President and his allies have been practicing the politics of meaningless distractions. They pick a meaningless issue that the Republicans will react to and introduce it to the public using executive orders or similar approaches.
They’ve done it with EPA regulations, immigration reform and now they’re trying it with Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. All of these policies were seeking to inflame their opposition and deflect them from meaningful issues.
Part of the Republican’s problem is that with so many members they’re bound to have a number who will react to any given issue. In many cases the Republicans are simply undisciplined. In other cases they’re spoiling for a fight.
The President and his staff knows exactly what buttons to push in order to get a reaction.And they do it every time.
Obama recently announced that more than 12 million acres of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge would be named as a wilderness area. This will cut off any and all opportunities to explore the resource-rich area for oil and gas.
Obama’s action drew an immediate response from Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AL), the new chair of the Senate Energy Committee.
Obama said in his statement:
Alaska’s National Wildlife Refuge is an incredible place — pristine, undisturbed. It supports caribou and polar bears, all manner of marine life, countless species of birds and fish, and for centuries it supported many Alaska Native communities. But it’s very fragile.
To really get the ire of Republicans, the Interior Department announced that this just the first in a series of announcements that will affect the state’s oil and gas production.
The department will also put part of the Arctic Ocean off limits to drilling as part of a five-year leasing plan it will issue this week and is considering whether to impose additional limits on oil and gas production in parts of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.
Modern drilling techniques have very little impact on the land so these announcement are simply a way of goading the Republicans into some sort of meaningless fight.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said in a statement.
What’s coming is a stunning attack on our sovereignty and our ability to develop a strong economy that allows us, our children and our grandchildren to thrive,” “It’s clear this administration does not care about us, and sees us as nothing but a territory. . . . I cannot understand why this administration is willing to negotiate with Iran, but not Alaska. But we will not be run over like this. We will fight back with every resource at our disposal..
Members of the administration responded in a measured way to Senator Murkowski’s outburst. John Podesta said:
I was hoping that a more balanced reaction would be forthcoming from some of the people who have commented on this.
So we hope that we can find cooperation so that that wilderness designation ultimately can go through in the Congress. But we don’t think that the reaction that particularly Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) had to this announcement was warranted.
You can expect more of this type of behavior from an administration that no longer has much control in the halls of Congress.