As I've noted it's pure long-term, strategic Obama, something the GOP will understand only when it's way too late. So far, they have played directly into the president's hands. A reader concurs:
The question is: why agree to this before getting an agreement from the GOP on other things, like cap and trade? That's where you get it, Andrew, and others don't. This move, which Obama longed telegraphed, is about perception as a way to increase bargaining power with the public against the GOP's sure-fire opposition.
The lesson of health care is this: Obama knows that even if he goes to the table like Dems want, saying no to oil, no to nukes, and then compromises (what pundits want) to try and get what he wants (a cap and trade system), that he still won't get GOP support and will lose the public in the process of negotiating. it happened with health care. That's the GOPs ploy, make demands, claim the demands will get your overall support, and then walk away and talk about how ugly the process is. In private conversations GOP senators have admitted they liked the health bill but couldn't vote for it alone.
Obama is now going at it from a different angle.
Knowing he has no GOP support, he gives his conservative Dems cover by backing oil and nukes and coal and he paints the GOP in a corner, like he did after the HCR summit, as the party of No. By preemptively saying he'll drill baby drill and do nuclear power, the GOP looks obstructionist.
This is good for Dems politically on the campaign trail, and it actually increases the chances that Dems can move in unison on an energy bill by themselves. Then they'll face the prospect of getting that 60th vote on stronger grounds than had they mucked up the message with a long drawn out process, where Ben Nelson cuts deals, talks poorly about the bill etc. By preemptively saying yes to oil, yes to nukes, this cuts the process in half. It's a comprehensive bill designed by Dems that they can run on.
That's the theory anyway.
More and more, you realize: he's got this.