Jonah Goldberg

You may have noticed that denouncing the "failed policies of the past" has become the official catechism of the Democratic Party.

Heck, it wouldn't surprise me if at DNC headquarters "gesundheit" is out as the polite response to a sneeze and tsk-tsking the rise in nose-tickling particulates thanks to the bankrupt policies of the Bush administration is in.

So, you'd think if everything Bush has done is wrong, then a reversal of his position would be right.

Wrong again. We didn't hear applause from Democrats this week when President Bush "reversed" his "longstanding position" (in the words of The New York Times) on offshore drilling.

Nearly thirty years ago, Jimmy Carter's windfall-profits tax kicked in, making domestic oil exploration more difficult and expensive. In 1981, Congress passed a moratorium on offshore drilling that has stayed in place ever since. In 1990, the first President Bush signed an executive order reinforcing the ban on coastal oil exploration. And, until this week, the current President Bush supported the ban.

And yet, no cheers for Bush when he abandoned his failed policy of the last eight years. Instead, Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid sniffed that these were more of the same "old ideas." Odd.

And when John McCain similarly reversed himself, the Democrats whistled the same tune again.

"John McCain's plan to simply drill our way out of our energy crisis is the same misguided approach backed by President Bush that has failed our families for too long and only serves to benefit the big oil companies," declared the Obama campaign.

Now, it's fair to say that more drilling is the approach President Bush wanted. And it's even defensible for Obama to call it misguided. But the salient fact is that Bush didn't get what he wanted because he was constrained by the real failed policies of the past.

Indeed, we constantly hear we can't drill our way to lower gas prices, but how does anybody know when we haven't even tried?

Despite enormous improvements in extraction technology, the amount of oil produced domestically in America went down in the last eight years. It went down in the 1990s. It went down in the 1980s. In fact, it's been trending down since the 1970s, back when Barack Obama's "new" ideas seemed fresh coming from Jimmy Carter. Today, we produce about as much domestic oil as we did in the late 1940s, even though we keep finding, but not utilizing, more proven reserves.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the forthcoming book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
 
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