An embattled President Obama said Wednesday that the Gulf oil disaster makes it imperative that America kick its "fossil fuel addiction." In a speech at Pittsburg's Carnegie Mellon University, Obama urged Congress to scrap tax breaks for oil companies and dedicate the money to entrepreneurial clean-energy efforts, and promised to fight for energy legislation, opposed by most Republicans, that "finally put[s] a price on carbon pollution." Can Obama use the BP spill to remake energy policy, or is he just playing politics? (Watch a clip from Obama's energy speech)
Obama made a strong argument: Like most of Obama's speeches, this one wasn't "particularly flashy," says James Fallows in The Atlantic. But it was notable as a clear, logical, and "serious" argument for weaning the U.S. economy from its "environmentally and strategically damaging" oil addiction. "And what better time than when oil is gushing into the sea?"
"Another speech worth noticing: Obama in Pittsburgh"
This was a campaign speech, not an energy one: What's most notable is how little Obama mentioned the "economy-threatening, ecosystem-strangling, gigantic oil spill," his "purported top priority," says Mary Katherine Ham in The Weekly Standard. In fact, he spent at least twice as many words "going off" on Republicans. That sure won't help the perception he's "more concerned with politics than the oil spill."
"Priorities: Obama gives four times the attention to GOP as oil spill in speech"
The policy and politics are connected: Obama did use the Gulf spill to make "his strongest pitch yet" for carbon-taxing energy legislation, says John Dickerson in Slate. But he clearly sees "political benefit" in that pitch, too. "With so few ways to show that he is in command of the spill and its cleanup," vowing to fight the GOP on the bill shows he's "fighting to protect the country" from another such disaster.
"The backward party"