Even as he proposes to arbitrarily soak the profits from oil exploration (see here), Barack Obama is finally beginning to bend on offshore drilling. Late last week he said he could perhaps support more U.S. energy exploration, so long as it was part of a larger "bipartisan" deal that presumably includes more rules for conservation, subsidies for noncarbon fuels, and other favorites of his green backers.
Leave aside the economic contradiction in allowing more drilling to find more oil only to strip the profits from companies that succeed in finding it. The real news here is political, as Mr. Obama and his advisers have begun to see the polls move against them on energy. With gas at $4 a gallon, voters even in such drilling-averse states as Florida increasingly see the need for more domestic oil supplies. So Mr. Obama is now doing a modified, limited switcheroo to block any John McCain traction on the issue.
Only last week, Mr. Obama couldn't have been more opposed, calling more drilling a "scheme" that wouldn't reduce gas prices. He's also been telling voters that we don't need to open more areas to drilling because the oil companies weren't drilling enough on the leases they already have. That is nonsense, since not every lease yields oil in amounts worth developing and drilling permits aren't automatic even on leased land.
The question for Mr. Obama is whether this latest switch is merely a rhetorical move for campaign purposes. If he's serious, he'll start to publicly lobby Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill to allow a vote on drilling when they return from their August recess. The McCain campaign should keep the pressure on until he does, and until Congress moves.
Obama's Drill Bit - WSJ.com