America’s growing antipathy to the Obama administration and its liberal policies continues to befuddle the progressive rank and file. The inherent goodness of the new nanny-state that the president is creating is so readily apparent to liberals that they are sure that the ever swelling surge of anger directed toward big government must be about something more sinister; latent racism, corporate conspiracies and Fox News are the most popular villains. Progressives don’t appear able to comprehend that conservatives and a growing number of independents aren’t just upset about what is being done, it’s the how it’s being done part that has the nation in such an uproar. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s decision to go back to the well, or rather to turn his back on the wells, by trying to impose a new version of an offshore drilling ban is just the latest example of an administration that has decided it can ignore the will of the people and rule of law.
We first witnessed the unabashed arrogance of the Obama administration when it pushed through the health care bill, using any parliamentary trick it could think of to accomplish its mission despite overwhelming, deeply-felt opposition throughout the country. The president’s unwillingness to do take meaningful action to stem the tide of illegal immigration has been disappointing, but Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision to take Arizona to court because that state has stepped up to do the job the federal government’s should have been doing is positively infuriating. Many Democratic governors understand this and have expressed concern that the administration’s pig-headed refusal to understand the mood of the electorate regarding this hot-button issue will ultimately result in disaster for their party come November.
Obama and his advisors have moved beyond the imperial presidency, To call it the tyrannical presidency would be a little excessive, but not by much. When Judge Martin Feldman overturned the administration’s six month ban on deep-water drilling, he made it clear that it was both unfair and illegal to punish an entire industry and those who depend on it for their livelihood because of a single accident. Undaunted, the administration appealed Feldman’s ruling, only to be shot down once again. Given the fact that most of the nation supports deepwater drilling, despite the disaster in the Gulf, the fact that other countries can and will tap the riches to be found under the sea floor and that two courts had ruled against a ban, one might think it’s time to throw in the towel and concentrate on ways to make deep-water drilling safer instead of trying to make it impossible. Yet, this administration is tenacious if nothing else. Once again, Barack Obama is doing his best to emulate Admiral David Farragut: damn public opinion, damn the law – full speed ahead!
The Interior Department justified the latest moratorium in familiar terms, stating that it’s different from the old ban because now this decision is “…the product of a new decision by the secretary and new evidence regarding safety concerns, blowout containment shortcomings within the industry, and spill response capabilities that are strained by the BP oil spill.” Actually, that sounds an awful lot like the justification that Salazar relied upon to impose the previous moratorium: there was an accident, nobody knew how to deal with it, so every company and every worker involved with the industry must be penalized. Feldman and the appeals court firmly rejected the idea that guilt can be transmitted by association, but the arrogance of the Obama administration knows no bounds. It’s as if, in the wake of the Exxon-Valdez accident, President George H. W. Bush had issued an executive order prohibiting oil tanker traffic within American waters. The phrase “cutting off your nose to spite your face” comes to mind.
In fact, there’s nothing new about the latest drilling moratorium. It’s the same tired, discredited argument, repackaged in the hope that some judge, somewhere, won’t notice that the Obama administration has just slapped a new set of pearls around the neck this particular swine. Progressives understand, better than anyone, how this game is played. They don’t actually have to win in court. Sure, an actual victory gives them a reason to thump their chests, but the process is the penalty in and of itself. As long as one has the resources to exploit the legal system – and nobody has more ability to do so than the federal government – one can keep going back to court time after time after time, until one emerges victorious or until the other side throws in the towel.
It’s possible that Ken Salazar actually believes in the moratorium, but I rather doubt it. His actions smack more of tactics than principles. If the Obama administration can’t legally justify a drilling ban, all they have to do is propose an endless string of legally unjustifiable drilling bans. The net effect is the same in either case. Environmental groups learned, a long time ago, that they could manipulate the system to impose so many delays that most industrial developers will eventually become exhausted and exasperated and will thus abandon their projects. The Obama administration understands that and – worse – not only do they know how important it is to manipulate the system, they actually are the system.