For all their presumed political prowess and message discipline, the Republicans have a habit of very bad timing when it comes to policy proposals.
Remember George Bush following the 2004 elections? He proclaimed that he would spend his political capital on privatizing Social Security. With repeated stock market crashes, or “corrections” as the stock analysts euphemistically refer to them, with the bursting of the dot.com bubble followed by the housing bubble implosion, it’s no wonder that whatever political capital Bush had vanished. This failure of his highest domestic policy proposal contributed to the public perception of Bush as out of touch and incompetent.
Now, with the BP oil gusher, Republicans seemed determined to double down on their calls for “drill, baby, drill.” In the face of the most obvious and now daily reinforced reasons why deepwater drilling is a bad idea, they continue to call for more drilling, more deep water drilling, and also continue to publicly defend the oil companies.
This masterpiece of bad timing is hard for them to run away from. They have been shouting about how more drilling (“drill here, drill now”) will solve all our energy problems. There are too many video clips of Republican leaders arguing that offshore drilling is so safe, it is foolish to oppose it. Too many clips of them claiming that drilling technology is so advanced that we should have no worries about a catastrophic oil spill.
And now we have had Texas Rep. Joe Barton, the top Republican on the House Energy Committee, apologizing to BP CEO Tony Hayward. Barton stated that he was “ashamed” of the “shakedown” that BP has been subjected to. Poor BP, all alone in the White House with that evil President Obama, forced to cough up $20 billion for a fund to start compensating the victims of the Gulf disaster. But have no fear! The courageous Republicans will come to BP’s defense.
Except in this case the bootlicking obsequiousness was so public and so obvious that the Republican House leadership forced Barton to apologize not once but twice. No such demands for an apology have been made to Georgia Republican Rep. Tom Price, who made an identical claim in a statement the day before. However, that wasn’t in a highly public congressional hearing with millions watching. So I guess it doesn’t count.
There’s even a Republican candidate in Florida who speculates that it could possibly be that the government and BP colluded to make the Gulf disaster happen – though such a claim makes no sense at all and has not an iota of proof. But he no doubt is just as courageous as Barton and Price (and Bachmann and Palin) in his willingness to say anything, even something so patently and obviously stupid, to see if right-wing crackpots will flood him with campaign contributions.
So their timing is terrible, as terrible as their policy “ideas.”
Next they will be arguing that stimulating the economy is a bad thing because we still have unemployment. Oh, wait, they are already arguing that.