Stand in the Place Where You Work


The Republican conference is still camped out on the Hill, giving speeches to anyone who'll listen (which means, at the moment, "conservative reporters") about the need for a special session to open up new area for oil drilling. Mark Hemingway reports:

With energy issues poised to be big in November, for now the momentum on the issue has swung the Republicans' way. And the House GOP shows no signs of giving up yet. On Tuesday afternoon, Texas congressmen Jeb Hensarling announced that a number of Republican Senators were on planes ready to join the House Republicans in their fight.

They're also quite confident that one way or another they're going to call Speaker Pelosi's bluff. For one thing, more domestic oil exploration and a new energy bill aren't exactly issues that have to break along party lines. In fact, they're confident if an up-or-down vote were allowed on the issue, enough Democrats would vote for it to pass it handily. The only way Pelosi can defeat it is to keep the vote from happening in the first place.

House Republicans don't think Pelosi can withstand continued pressure. Speaking on the floor of the House, Georgia congressmen Phil Gingrey said he expects to look at his Blackberry anytime, and see a message saying, "ALERT: Speaker of the House has called Congress back."

Richard Brookheiser waves his handkerchief:

Isn't this the equivalent of a sit-in, except that the sitters are representatives? If a Democratic rump had defied Gingrich or Hastert in such a fashion, wouldn't we tut-tut about their behavior?

I don't have a problem with the optics, actually. It would be nice if, as they their test their newfound expertise about energy, House Republicans could spend a minute or two pondering the effects of the idiotic war they all voted for. But politically, I think they're playing this card too early. The offshore oil drilling ban is expiring on September 30—four days after the first presidential debate. The country will be fully engaged in the election. This month, people are plotting vacations or watching the Olympics. I don't mean to put down this protest, as it's catching fire like nothing the GOP's done in a while, but when members start yanking their party's presidential candidate into a fight that would help him more in two months, it seems astrategic.