The McClatchy news service is reporting that Barack Obama is now open to offshore drilling if it is part of a broader energy package. It’s clear, however, that Obama is still not thrilled about the idea: “Like all compromises, it also includes steps that I haven’t always supported,” he told the Palm Peach Post. “I remain skeptical that new offshore drilling will bring down gas prices in the short-term or significantly reduce our oil dependence in the long-term, though I do welcome the establishment of a process that will allow us to make future drilling decisions based on science and fact.”
Although the shift leaves him open to charges of flip-flopping, Obama is probably trying to take one of the Republicans’ best issues off the table, the way Bill Clinton did in the 1996 campaign by finally signing welfare reform. But after signing the reform bill, Clinton didn’t leave much room for Bob Dole to get to his right on welfare. Obama’s tepid position on drilling still leaves plenty of room for John McCain to get to his right. And in 1996, the new welfare reform law was a reality. This is just a campaign promise that differs from past promises.