In the week or so leading up to Tuesday night's annual State of the Union address, all indications were that President Obama would return to the clean energy themes helped him get elected to office in 2008. First it was denying the Keystone XL pipeline, then it was a new campaign ad—the Obama campaign's first—that made clean energy and jobs its central theme. And just days before the address, President Obama said the resurgence of the American economy will be made possible by "American energy -- fueled by homegrown and alternative energy sources."
But in advance of tonight's big speech, White House insiders and official spokespersons are hinting that the president will emphasize jobs, manufacturing, economic fairness and energy — and not just the clean kind. Citing sources familiar with the contents of Tuesday night's speech, The Wall St. Journal is reporting that the president will use the speech to encourage expansion of domestic oil and gas development.
"Mr. Obama is expected to tout the economic and energy security benefits of increased U.S. oil and gas production," write The Journal's Deborah Solomon and Laura Meckler, noting that it is "a message unlikely to sit well with some of the President's environmental supporters but which could blunt industry and Republican criticism of his energy policies."
Whether calling to end tax subsidies to oil companies while simultaneously calling for an expansion of domestic oil and gas production is political suicide or political brilliance remains to be seen. But if Mr. Obama can succeed in pulling it off without substantially angering environmental interests or the oil industry, he would show once again that he would prefer to be a president that governs from the "radical center."
On Twitter? Chat about and follow the State of the Union's energy and environment themes on Twitter with the #ecoSOTU hashtag.
Photo: Official White House Photo by Pete Souza