by Max Brantley
Arkansas Republican legislators and legislative candidates have scheduled a 1:30 p.m. news conference at the Capitol today to pump what appears to be the only issue the GOP has left -- drill for oil anywhere you can sink a drill bit, now.
The economy is in the dumper. Bush's war has been a disaster. Deficits are exploding. The rich are getting richer, the poor poorer and less insured.
The Republicans' answer (misdirection is more like it): drill for oil, of course. And, in 15 years, some of that new production might even come on line and contribute a penny or so of benefit to gas prices. We've already seen this week dramatic evidence of a better strategy for bringing down oil prices -- reduce demand and prices will drop.
Repubs here and nationally seem to think this is a powerful issue, however. They've proven adept over the years at tapping issues where emotion trumps reason. I'll repeat that I have a lifelong friend who's an oil company attorney -- he prospers in direct proportion to oil company drilling activity -- who doesn't think much of the value of a call for expanded drilling in response to high gas prices. Oil companies already have plenty of leases to explore.
Here's just one of a jillion think pieces on why the reflexive urge to drill is no solution to anything. And here's a straight news report that mentions the potential three-cent-a-gallon impact drilling in Alaska might produce by 2027.
This Repub dog-and-pony show was to announce alliance with a political organization formed by Newt Gingrich and pushed by Tom Delay. The Ark. Repubs claim it's nonpartisan, but that's balderdash, as ample news coverage indicates. It's biggest backer is Cincinnati billionaire Carl Lindner, one of the Swift Boat financiers. It'll be promoting the usual pet causes, not to mention The Newt.