Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Drilling Rigs or Drill Sergeants?

Thanks for the Memory to GOP Bloggers:

Filibuster Threatened Over Defense Appropriations Bill

The Defense Appropriations Bill is being met with threats of a filibuster by Senate Democrats, who are using the inclusion of drilling in ANWR as their excuse for opposing the bill.

The entry at GOPB goes on to argue that the ANWR issue is just an excuse to oppose the Defense Appropriations Bill. I'm sorry, I just don't buy that -- at least not across the board. To be sure, there are some Senate Dems who are far enough to the right that that might be the case (I'm looking at you, Nancy Pelosi), but for the most part I think that's an unfair characterization. In fact, I believe this is a case where everyday Americans should be equally angry with BOTH parties' Senators.

First of all, I'm all for drilling in the ANWR, and I think it's inevitable. While it's important to continue exploring other energy options, the oil in ANWR will help. And while those on the left who oppose it will point out that it will provide far less oil than is needed, they fail to prove to my satisfaction that it will fail to provide more of a benefit than a detriment. They paint a bleak picture of a raped arctic, but they fail to show that this doomsday scenario is even remotely likely.

Second, I am a firm believer that one of the key functions of the Federal Government is, as the Constitution states, to "provide for the common defense". I can think of few, if any, more important functions, or with more dire consequences if the Government fails in those duties.

And so, yes, I'm angry with the Senate Democrats for their reaction. Not because I believe that more than a portion of them truly oppose Defense, but because so many of them are unwilling or unable to risk alienating the far left of their base and take their lumps. They are more interested in "being all things to all fringes that by all means they might save some of their voter base" than in doing what's right for the country.

But I'm also angry at Senate Republicans for putting the Dems in this position. In today's political climate, they had to know what the Democratic reaction would be. The ANWR is one of those hot-button topics for the left, a rallying cry against the eeevil Rethuglikkkans. the more their central base slips away, the more the Dems have to cater to the far left in order to remain relevant. Slipping this measure into the Defense Appropriations Bill was imprudent. The GOP Senators were more interested in putting one over on the Dems than on doing what's right for the country.

So here is my message to both sides of that august body.

To the Dems, I say, stop dropping the F Bomb every time you don't get your way. Stop demanding that the majority make concessions to you, and calling THEM divisive, when they don't, that just sounds petulant. You're the minority party right now, grow a pair and deal with it. If you truly oppose drilling the ANWR, work to get moderate Republicans to join you in removing that provision from the bill. Seek common ground, find compromises, make deals. And in the end, if you can't get it removed, buck up and accept it. The Nation's defense is more important than your pet crusade.

To the Republicans (and I speak as a registered Republican), I say, stop trying to be sneaky when it isn't necessary. Stop trying to optimize every measure as a way to make yourself look good and your opponents look bad, that just looks like posturing. You're the majority party right now, grow a pair an act like it. If you want to drill the ANWR, get it through on its own merits. Press home the agenda, flex your muscle, use that clout. And in the end, if you can't find the courage to do so, buck up and forget it. The Nation's defense is more important than your pet crusade.