It’s a little tricky being a Republican politician these days: given that the public disagrees with just about everything your party stands for, you’re forced to bounce from one subterfuge to another, always keeping your true motives hidden in the shadows.
What this means is that to be successful, a Republican politician, in addition to the usual political skills, must also be a grand master in the art of bait and switch.
– Concerned that the public won’t go along with starting a war in Iraq for the purpose of testing the latest neoconservative dreams of glory? No problem — just say those four magical little words: weapons of mass destruction.
– Worried the electorate won’t be tickled pink by the thought of massive tax cuts for the wealthy? Don’t give it another thought: we’ll simply package it as “middle class tax relief,” forgetting to mention that 80 percent of the benefits go to the super wealthy.
– Your poor little head is troubled by opposition to a legislative attempt to help polluters get away with polluting? Worry not even a single hair on your precious little head, my love: all we need to do is to give it a name like “Clear Skies Initiative” and everything will be alright.
Bait and switch — we do love you so!
The latest dish in the GOP bait and switch banquet comes in the form of renewed calls for increased offshore drilling. We know that under even the most optimistic of projections there simply isn’t enough oil in protected offshore locations to make a spit in the ocean’s worth of difference to the nation’s energy needs. So how can a political platform calling for a drilling rig off of every pristine beach possibly be a winner politically?
Ah, but once again you’ve underestimated the power of the almighty bait and switch! You see, Bush and McCain aren’t calling for renewed drilling per se: they’re calling for letting each state decide on its own. This isn’t about offshore drilling at all. It’s a matter of respecting states’ rights.
The idea of letting each state set its own policy on offshore drilling is, of course, absurd. To borrow from John Donne, “No state is an island, entire of itself.” Oil leaks from drilling sites off of the coast of, say, South Carolina won’t discriminate on which state’s beaches they foul. As North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley well stated:
It doesn’t work for states to decide. If the state above or below you has a problem it affects your shores as well,” he said. “It’s too much squeeze for the juice when you look at real estate on the coast, recreational fishing and tourism that could be adversely affected by some problem.”
But then that’s the glorious thing about bait and switch: it doesn’t have to actually make sense, it just has to sound like it does.