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August 16, 2008

McCain May Change Position on ANWR (!)

May, but this is certainly an interesting shift. Previously he has sworn he would never even think of drilling in the beautiful pristine wasteland that is aesthetically indistinguishable from the Grand Canyon.

In an interview with THE WEEKLY STANDARD aboard his campaign plane last week, McCain made clear he has not ruled out a change in his position–to one that endorses drilling in ANWR. “I continue to examine it,” he said. So does his staff. McCain’s campaign has been quietly studying the ANWR issue and discussing the potential consequences–good and bad–of a policy change.

But in our conversation on August 13, McCain added a new wrinkle. When I asked him if he had consulted Palin about ANWR, he said that he had not yet done so. He added, “I probably should,” he said. “I will.”

So I called Palin to ask what McCain can expect to hear. The answer is that Palin, who has been mentioned as a possible McCain running mate but has not been vetted, will make a straightforward case for drilling in ANWR. She says McCain’s willingness to take another look at ANWR is “very encouraging.”


She added: "And I know up here in Alaska, most every Alaskan believes that ANWR should be drilled, and no one cares more about Alaska's environment--our lands, our wildlife, our fresh air, our clean water--than Alaskans themselves. And we know that this can be allowed safely, cleanly, ethically--this type of exploration and development of an American supply of energy."

That last point could be significant. When McCain changed his position on offshore drilling earlier this summer, he did so on federalist grounds. If states believe that drilling can be safely done off their shores, and choose to allow it, he argued, the federal government should no longer stand in their way. He could make the same argument on ANWR.

"I'll convince him," the hot MILF in glasses vowed. "I can be very persuasive," she purred.

Maybe he wants to win the election or something.

This is a cheap way to get conservatives finally excited about a McCain presidency. The Maverick has alienated many of us on a large number of issues, and it's difficult for him to reverse himself on them. On this issue, there's a powerful change in circumstance that makes this a "flip-flop" which really isn't.

By taking a position that's popular and good policy to boot, McCain has an almost consequence-free option for winning conservatives over to his side (rather than merely being opposed to Obama).

It might also reassure some of us that he is open to argument and new ideas, and doesn't merely cling to his past positions -- despite their being wrong, or at least rendered obsolete by changing events -- out of a vanity he mistakes for "integrity."

This change of position would make his policies more consistent, not less. It's hard to argue that the current oil crunch is such a dire threat to our economy that we must drill in the ocean... but not the permafrost wasteland of of the Arctic hellplains. And it makes little sense for McCain to warn us of the great threat of a revanchist Russia, and how we must drill for our own oil to keep money out of the pockets of "countries that don't like us very much"... so long as doing so does not cause any distress to a caribou who might find a pipeline aesthetically displeasing.

Related: Ten Republican Senators send letter to Bush urging him to begin, on his own authority, high-tech seismological surveys of ANWR's true reserves.

No such survey has been done since 1983, allowing Democrats to continue lying about the amount of oil likely available in ANWR.

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posted by Ace at 03:41 PM

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