President Obama surprised supporters and foes alike Wednesday by opening up parts of the ocean off the East Coast and Alaska to oil and gas exploration. Saying "we need to move beyond the tired debates between right and left," he touted his adoption of the key Republican goal as part of a comprehensive approach to energy policy. Is Obama pandering to "drill, baby, drill" conservatives, or playing a longer game? (Watch Obama's off-shore drilling announcement)

Obama's robbed the GOP of a "major talking point": "The politics of this move is easy," says Marc Ambinder in The Atlantic. With the Senate taking up climate legislation, Obama gets good will from moderate Democrats by thumbing his nose at environmentalists. He backs Republicans into a corner by preemptively giving them what they want. And as a bonus, he gets "public cred" for trying to create jobs.
"Drill, Obama, drill"

Obama finally saw the light: Obama should have gone farther, allowing more Pacific and Alaska drilling, says Ilya Shapiro in National Review, but his conservative critics should applaud that "for once he’s doing something right." Obama may be "coming late to the party," and coming reluctantly, but better late than never to see things the right way.
"Drill, Obama, drill"

Why is he giving away the store? Obama's offshore-oil gambit "is not exactly shocking," but it's puzzling as a negotiating tactic, says Steve Benen in Washington Monthly. Now that Obama has given Republicans what they most want — new nuclear power plants and offshore drilling — "what is he getting in return?" The GOP has no incentive to make any concessions on Democratic goals, like cap-and-trade.
"In exchange for what?"