Republicans widely say the situation calls into question Biden’s energy policies. They say prioritizing the transition to green energy has left us too dependent on Russian oil, and that we should redouble our bets on fossil fuels for our future. At the same time, they openly signal their intention to attack the Democrats for any further gas price hikes resulting from the ban on these oil imports.
Democrats have largely responded to all of this with polite fact-checks and calls for unity. But in an interview, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) offered another approach: He said Democrats should get more aggressive.
“Democrats have to be on the offensive,” Murphy told us. “Explain to the American people who will be the main beneficiary of these Republican calls for more drilling. This is not Ukraine. It’s not the American people. It’s the oil industry.
Republicans claim the invasion demonstrated that the United States is not sufficiently “energy independent” and therefore should do less to move away from fossil fuels. They say that’s why gas prices are high right now, and why we’re too dependent on Russian oil at the wrong time.
For example, a GOP political group is attacking Democrats with atrociously dishonest ads blaming today’s gas prices for Biden’s cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline. The ads blame this for our reliance on Russian oil, which means US oil purchases are “helping Russia finance its invasion,” all thanks to Biden.
Glenn Kessler demonstrates why this is nonsense from start to finish: Keystone wouldn’t work now even if Biden hadn’t stopped it, and we buy a small fraction of our oil from Russia. And Biden is now moving to stop those imports.
Democrats make these points. But they could do more to take offense to this issue, such as pointing out that GOP calls for a slower transition away from fossil fuels are exactly what the oil industry wants.
“What the Republicans are proposing has little to do with lowering domestic prices or helping Ukraine,” Murphy told us. “The biggest beneficiary,” he added, would be “the oil industry, its CEOs and its investors.”
As for the Republican requirement of “energy independence”, as long as we fill our cars with a liquid whose price is determined on the world markets, it is not really attainable in the sense understood by the Republicans.
Indeed, the basis of the GOP’s claim — that oil companies are being forced to produce more by the Biden administration‘s environmental policies — is false. An executive order suspending new permits to drill on public lands has been suspended by a court and, as the administration never tires of pointing out, oil companies hold thousands of such permits that they don’t use. not.
Rather than aspiring to produce more, the oil companies could not be happier with the current situation. They are making extraordinary profits, thanks to prices that have skyrocketed from their pandemic lows even before the invasion of Ukraine.
An irony here is that Republicans support nearly all of Biden’s plans. Politics responses to the invasion of Ukraine, while simultaneously decrying him as soft on Putin. They don’t want a no-fly zone that could trigger World War III. They support the severe financial punishment the US is inflicting on Russia. Nor can they credibly complain about Biden’s success in getting allies to join the response.
Yet Republicans nonetheless stuck to the refrain that Russia launched its invasion now because it sensed Biden’s weakness, juxtaposed with Donald Trump’s comedic assertion of supposed strength.
But Democrats seem oddly reluctant to respond by calling out the Putin elephant in the room: that Republicans defended Trump for years as he sought to align our interests with those of Putin and against those of Ukraine, Russia, and Russia. NATO and the West.
When asked if Democrats could hit back harder on that front, Murphy noted an asymmetry. With a Democrat in the White House in the role of rallying a unified country to Ukraine’s defense, Democrats feel constrained against harsh Ukraine-focused political attacks, unlike Republicans.
“I’m torn,” Murphy told us. “I want Americans to understand how dishonest Republicans are, after supporting Trump’s attacks on Ukraine for four years.”
“But I also know it’s important to keep Republicans and Democrats together in order to show American strength to the world and try to push through good policy for Ukraine,” Murphy continued.
Yet while this is understandable, the result may be that voters only hear the GOP drumbeat over Biden’s alleged weakness without hearing the obvious pushback.
“It’s hard to overestimate how damaging the Trump years have been for U.S.-Ukrainian relations,” Murphy said. “It is very plausible that Ukraine would be in a stronger position today had the Trump administration viewed Ukraine as anything other than a political poker chip.”