What's become of the Democrats?
By Henry Lamb
web posted March 4, 2002
"Mighty-Mouse" has become sinister, and "Fritz" has become an
embarrassment: both are hollow shadows of what the
Democratic Party leadership once was. "Mighty-Mouse,"
otherwise known as Tom Daschle, has resorted to procedural
intrigue to prevent the Senate majority from voting to allow
drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge. "Fritz" Hollings,
(D-SC) has apparently gone completely bananas.
In a press conference on Wednesday, Hollings made
so many factual errors and mis-statements that his competence,
and the competence of his staff, must be questioned. Hollings
blamed Bush for the September 11 attacks because Bush
allowed Enron to have offshore subsidiaries like those Osama
bin Laden might have used to transfer money. Excuse me?
Hollings is to be pitied. The Democratic leadership would be
well advised to put a cork in his spout. "Mighty-Mouse," on the
other hand, is not to be pitied. He should be exposed for the
mild-mannered-menace he is. His anti-ANWR position reveals
just how much he is indebted to the environmental extremists
who pull his strings. Daschle says we can't drill our way out of
dependence upon foreign oil.
He's wrong. He says we can reduce our dependence on foreign
oil by increasing the miles-per-gallon regulations by only three
miles per gallon. Even if this statement were true, the costs
required would be unacceptable.
ANWR will produce at least one million barrels of oil per day
when fully functional. This would replace the amount that we
now import from Iraq. If we develop ANWR, it is certainly
possible that a few bugs could be squashed. If we increase the
miles-per-gallon requirement, as Daschle prefers, it is an
absolute fact that a measurable number of human beings will die
as the result.
Better mileage requires lighter vehicles. Every increase in mileage
requirements has resulted in a higher death rate from vehicle
crashes. The market now provides a good balance in the
vehicles that are available. People who want better mileage can
have it. Those who want the safety of a larger vehicle can have it.
Daschle would rather see people denied the choice, and forced
into smaller, more dangerous vehicles, than to risk a few bugs
that might be inconvenienced in ANWR.
Actually, the bugs in ANWR, as well as the other wildlife, would
not likely be squashed or even inconvenienced. Technology is
such that drilling, pumping, and transporting the badly- needed
oil, would hardly be noticed by ANWR's inhabitants. The
Clinton-Gore Department of Energy said as much in a report
produced in 1999.
But for "Mighty-Mouse," the issue isn't about energy security. It
isn't about the environment. It is about not disappointing the
horde of environmental extremists who see him as their champion
- now that Gore is no longer able to deliver.
The extremes to which "Mighty-Mouse" has maneuvered in
order to deliver for his special-interest constituency, are
remarkable. The Senate Energy Committee had the President's
energy package ready for passage - a proposal which passed
the House of Representatives with the ANWR drilling provision.
As is his prerogative as Majority Leader, Daschle chose to
ignore the Committee bill, and bring his own energy bill to the
Senate floor, bypassing the Energy Committee altogether.
Daschle's bill does not include ANWR drilling.
Republicans will have to offer an amendment to drill ANWR, for
which there are enough votes for passage. Daschle has promised
a filibuster. Senate rules require 60 votes to end a filibuster.
There are not yet 60 votes for ANWR drilling.
So "Mighty-Mouse," using procedure rather than persuasion, is
trying to defy the will of the majority, ignore the recent polls
which show that more Americans than not, approve of drilling in
ANWR, ignore the wishes of the hundreds of thousands of
people represented by the signers of this
letter, and keep his special-interest cronies pouring money
and support to the Democratic Party.
It is a sad day when the once-proud Democratic Party has to
rely on leaders who resort to procedural intrigue and
incompetent hysteria to advance its cause. The Democratic Party
faithful, and the American people, deserve much better.
Henry Lamb (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the executive vice
president of the Environmental Conservation Organization (http:
//www.eco.freedom.org/el/), and chairman of Sovereignty
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