It would seem so. Many who rejected "drilling" as a simple-minded, short-term solution to America's energy situation voted for Obama and the Democrats. Today the NY Times reports:
The Obama administration is proposing to open vast expanses of water along the Atlantic coastline, the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the north coast of Alaska to oil and natural gas drilling, much of it for the first time, officials said Tuesday.... the sheer breadth of the offshore drilling decision will take some of his supporters aback.Obama calculates that his recent give-away to the insurance industry in the guise of health-care reform has won the White House sufficient political capital to capture some additional campaign financing from the oil industry. The president is walking on thin ice.
Obama has not secured any kind of carbon trading scheme. Neither drilling nor tossing a few billion into nuclear power is any kind of substitute for a national energy policy.* It is not that any offshore drilling is necessarily a bad idea, but in the absence of serious progress on the issues that Obama got elected for, on behalf of constituencies that campaigned for him, the drilling proposal will not merely be received as another slap in the face. This time the anger may boil over.
* Obama allocated $8 billion for nuclear power. The same figure -- a pittance any way you look at it -- that went towards passenger rail.
Update: What bothers me most about this announcement is that it appears to be yet another example of Obama negotiating against-- what is supposed to be -- his own side. In return for this preemptive "concession" to the oil lobby, what has Obama won for the environmental movement?
The decision also further undermines Obama's claim to stand for anything. During the campaign in 2008, Obama made strong and compelling statements against offshore drilling. Have any of the facts that informed his reasoned critique of offshore drilling changed?
Here's Obama explaining his opposition to offshore drilling in June 2008:
Here's Obama describing his support for offshore drilling today:
In 2008 Obama offered voters his reasons for opposing drilling. In 2010 all the president provides are platitudes. Obama owes it to the public to explain why his previous reasoning on the issue is no longer valid.