Drill ahead on energy debate

Barack Obama, the candidate of change, has changed positions again. Now he's willing to consider offshore drilling.


An interesting, even welcome flip-flop.

It may come too late to get his candidacy and the Democratic Party back on the same side as most voters -- three-quarters of whom support offshore drilling. And that tardiness may have something to do with Gallup Poll results that now show the race between Obama and John McCain a dead heat, after Obama led briefly by 9 points.

His reversal also came too late for Congress to act before its August adjournment last Friday.

But that didn't stop several dozen Republican House members from holding a Boston Tea Party-style speech-fest in the dimmed and TV-less House chambers Friday afternoon. A number also returned early this week for continued protest over the Democratic leadership's failure to show any. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, not as open-minded (or perhaps politically astute) as Obama, is holding firm against any drilling, even if states agree to it (as should be required).

Critics of drilling exaggerate its lack of impact. No, no one expects black gold to be oozing right away. It will take years. But it remains that accessing America's own energy must be part and parcel of the country's energy strategy into the future.

And it's just possible that mere talk of drilling has helped hold the line on gasoline prices.

Let's hope Obama's changed talk helps Democrats see the light, too. As The Wall Street Journal said Monday: "If he's serious, he'll start to publicly lobby Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill to allow a vote on drilling when they return from their August recess."

Don't hold your breath.