April 22, 2001
4:52 PM   Subscribe

A new bugaboo will have to be found: The Bush Administration has decided not to attempt to drill for oil in the ANWR.
posted by aaron (26 comments total)
If I read what is going on correctly, after listening to tv pundits et al on talk shows, Bush people, having discovered much opposition in America to their environmental stands, are now backing off on lots of issues connected to environment. Perhaps Bush types know he is not recognized by many Americans as duly occupying the White House; in any case, they want (seems to me) to gather strength of support...dance away before going back for more direct punches,so to speak.
posted by Postroad at 5:01 PM on April 22, 2001

You're extrapolating stuff that just isn't there, Postroad. The number of people who truly think he's an illegitmate occupant of the White House is so small as to be irrelevant and easily ignorable. His approval ratings are in the normal range for any president.

As I understand it, the idea is to get all the controversial actions out of the way as quickly as possible, so that the next 3 1/2 years will be much smoother sailing.
posted by aaron at 5:11 PM on April 22, 2001

By the way, one disturbing trend I've noticed lately is that after eight years of Clinton, much of the public has become oddly convinced that the proper way to run the government is by focus group. Since Clinton never took a strong position on anything until he had all sorts of data from polls and focus groups on how it would affect his approval rating, some have gotten used to having the currently-popular decision being the automatically correct decision. That's not how it really worked pre-Clinton, and now we're going to have to get used to that fact again post-Clinton. There will always be White House internal polling done, but the days where it largely determined the president's decisions are over.
posted by aaron at 5:20 PM on April 22, 2001

...right. Now we can go back to letting Big Business determine those decisions.
posted by jpoulos at 5:22 PM on April 22, 2001

um, no, aaron he stopped because people would've yelled about it the Alaska thing so much that his approval ratings would've begun to sail downward. It's called avoiding a controversial action in order for it not to be an issue at a latter date, defusing an issue. Which means the people screaming about the issue actually accomplished something. Now, what's his alternative? Nothing, probably, for he's thought of nothing else after bringing up Alaska at every possible occasion. (The California electric power crisis? Oh, we need to drill for oil in Alaska.)
posted by raysmj at 5:24 PM on April 22, 2001

Actually, ray, the only thing that stopped him was that congress would have killed it. He may be relieved, however, that he was met with such opposition in Congress. Now, he doesn't have to worry about his approval ratings dropping, AND he can say to his oil buddies that it's not his fault. After all, he tried to do what he was told...
posted by jpoulos at 5:35 PM on April 22, 2001

One small step for man, one giant leap for Big Oil lackeys.
posted by aflakete at 5:38 PM on April 22, 2001

Bugaboo, huh? So you're saying that there never were plans to drill in ANWR, then ("exaggerated")? Or that it's just going to keep coming up over and over again ("persistent")?
posted by rodii at 5:39 PM on April 22, 2001

I think the approval rating system is a load of crap. I am inclined to draw parallels to commercials that say "4 out of 5 dentists agree you should brush with [x]," when in fact they only polled five dentists, and four of them were on [x]'s payroll. My point is, who the hell are they polling that thinks Bush is doing a good job? I bet the sample population was a 500 foot radius around the Oval Office...
posted by fusinski at 5:46 PM on April 22, 2001

The way I understand it is that there is not that much oil there anyway. If the US relied exclusively on the ANWR, it would be depleted within a year. Seems like a big risk for such a small pay out
posted by keithl at 5:52 PM on April 22, 2001


but I still won't trust it until I see something clearer.
posted by rebeccablood at 5:52 PM on April 22, 2001

Hmmmm.....can't get legislation passed because the Congress listened to the opnion of the people they represent.......boy, we wouldn't want this representative democracy thing to get out of hand, now would we?

Bush caved because he knew he didn't have the votes. He lost this particular round, no matter how the Republicans want to try to spin it. That's not governance by opinion poll, that's good old fashioned American politics, and Bush lost one. Now he can move on to whatever other "controversial items" he needs to get done according to aaron's to-do list.
posted by briank at 5:55 PM on April 22, 2001

Fusinski: Polls are sometimes good, sometimes horrible, sometimes in between, yet never totally satisfying. The big problem is question wording, followed by the failure to register depth of feeling. Nevertheless, advances in the quote-unquote science of polling have been immense in recent years. I'm simultaneously find them fascinating and completely appalling. A good overview of recent polls can, in any case, be found at pollingreport.com. Just to let you know, the truth is somewhere in the middle, the NY Times and CBS are generally more liberal, Gallup is usually reliable except when working for USA Today and getting them headlines, Zogby is controversial for his use of intuition in polling but nevertheless reliable except when working in certain states (e.g., New York), Harris is neither here nor there, the Wall St. Journal-NBC News, ditto, and Fox is totally full of *%#& in 9 cases out of 10.
posted by raysmj at 6:23 PM on April 22, 2001

I may indeed be off and not seeing things clearly, Aaron, but Bush changed his mind on the lead issue and now on this...why the turn about? indecision (not good thing) or...?
The ratings I read suggested that he was doing ok but that he was getting low scores on environment...he and his people may not believe in polls but polls exist and I am convinced that his people know what the papers and the polls say and this has to have an impact. I note too that Whitman is back tracking too in her recent appearances on tv.
which is to say I am not at all unhappy about this.
posted by Postroad at 7:10 PM on April 22, 2001

So you're saying that there never were plans to drill in ANWR, then?

As the linked definition indicates, I considered ANWR drilling to be "an object of obsessive, usually exaggerated fear." Even if it had happened, it wouldn't have been a

For the record, most Alaskans were for it, including the Alaskans actually in the area that would have been affected. And Americans in general were not nearly as against it as some would believe. And the "1-year-supply" thing is nowhere near true (though I don't recall ever seeing anyone claim that would be the only source of American oil). A number of ANWR myths are defused here.

Postroad: Well, like I said, WH polling will probably always exist. But the Clinton Administration was very poll-happy, and they figured strongly into far too many policy decisions, IMHO. And I don't think polls mattered much here; Bush obviously has strong beliefs that this is the worst possible time to go enviro-nutty, when we're teetering on the edge of recession. And he believes even more strongly that any policies enacted by Clintonian fiat (executive order) in the last few days of his administration, whether environmental or otherwise, should be looked at very closely before a decision is made whether to allow them to stand. In the end, I think jpoulos was right about it being a Congressional thing. (He's laughably wrong about the puppet-of-the-oil-barons thing, naturally.)
posted by aaron at 8:43 PM on April 22, 2001

The refuge area residents' view of the issues involved is presented as being far more complicated (heck, downright convoluted) here. Given that conflicting interests are involved, this shouldn't come as any surprise. I have never heard of the polling firm cited in the Congressional press release you linked, but I presume that it could very well either partisan or linked to drilling interests. The land is national parkland in any case, not state parkland.
posted by raysmj at 9:09 PM on April 22, 2001

I despise focus group politics. And if Bush is listening to Republicans who fear their seats in 2002, good for him.

(And yes, I do agree that the end-of-term executive orders deserve reviews; in fact, it'd be admirable if Bush were to pledge not to make any of his own.)

(He's laughably wrong about the puppet-of-the-oil-barons thing, naturally.)

Yeah, he's actually a puppet of the agribusiness and credit card companies.
posted by holgate at 9:45 PM on April 22, 2001

Bush doesn't have a lot of political chips to cash in, and he doesn't want to lose them on this issue. Sooner or later, most presidential administrations bog down... and you can always trace it to that first big loss. The smell of victory is gone, the opposition knows it can afford to beat you up a bit, and you're forced to compromise from that point on. In Clinton's case, it was healthcare. Hillary Clinton, for all her hard work, was just too obvious of a target to pull it off.

Let's face it... Bush and his financial backers can gain far more off of a Free Trade agreement for the Americas than by drilling for oil in the middle of Alaska somewhere.

I think that the whole "drilling in the ANWR" effort took a big, big blow a few weeks back when that pipeline in Alaska leaked a combination of highly concentrated salt water and oil. It would be very easy for critics to say that the exact kind of thing could happen in the ANWR... and of course, they would be right.

Reminds me of when the Romans finally conquered Carthage... they didn't just burn/tear down the city, they salted the earth so nothing could ever grow there again. The sad thing is that the U.S. has created natural disasters which have put Carthage to shame. For instance, the Salton Sea, which, once evaporated, will turn 350 square miles of once valuable farmland, enough land to feed well over a million people, into an American Dead Sea.
posted by insomnia_lj at 12:33 AM on April 23, 2001

There are about 1 million other issues Bush needs to be smacked down on.

And Christine Whitman's duck and weave on Meet the Press Sunday morning was hilarious, I guess it's her pay for being a good little soldier during the recount.
posted by owillis at 1:06 AM on April 23, 2001

With regards this kind of Gallup survey, are any of the 50 or so percent of people represented as thinking that George W. Bush will do a good job of protecting the nation's environment reading this now? Please make yourselves heard. I have heard nothing but badmouthing about Bush on MeFi (largely in agreement with my own views) and would be fascinated to hear the other side of the story.
posted by MUD at 5:35 PM on April 23, 2001

Hey kids, guess what?? The bugaboo is baackk!! Seems Ms. Whitman just needed another smack down to get her priorities in line. The hard right line. Sorry for the late post on this thread but Dubya just reversed Christy on Monday about this little drilling thing. And Aaron, I joined just for you. I just wanted to tell you there are a great many people upset over the travesty some called an election. I belong to that group and contrary to what Dubya says, we're not "fringe folk", we just look that way from the extreme right view!
posted by nofundy at 12:10 PM on April 24, 2001

How many weeks until Christy resigns?
posted by ParisParamus at 12:24 PM on April 24, 2001

Nofundy, it's just a change in strategery...
posted by ParisParamus at 12:29 PM on April 24, 2001

Yup. From today's Chicago Tribune (sorry, no link):

"White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said Monday that Christine Whitman ... was speaking in 'confusion' Sunday when she announced that a White House energy task force would not recommend drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Fleischer then [said] that the task force will recommend that oil drilling be allowed in the refuge."

Did Whitman just get goofed up on Earth Day rhetoric?
posted by jbushnell at 12:56 PM on April 24, 2001

Like I said, "persistent." Every time the price of oil goes up, drilling in the ANWR will come back, forever or until we have an alternative energy source, whichever comes first.

NYT link
posted by rodii at 6:20 AM on April 26, 2001

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