Friday, November 11, 2005

The Battle for ANWR

So, you going to talk about Dusseldorf?

You mean Duesseldorf? Yes, but not yet. Instead I want to talk about good news that happened because of a Republican's principled stand.

You're kidding.

Not even for a moment. Most of the time I hear the plaintive wail "I would support the GOP if only they had sane candidates." But here's a case where a Republican did the right thing and has as a result significantly increased his chances of re-election.

Here's the deal. For years now, Big Oil and their sock puppets in national government have been agitating to get into the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve. Having gutted most of the North Slope for crude, the now-rich remains of this easily-reached oilfield is just there for the taking, if only for the fact that, you know, those pesky animals live there. So there have been regular, increasing attempts to give the go-ahead to bore drillheads into this fragile pristine landscape. Most of the bills to allow it have been defeated by ever-smaller numbers. Eventually, the thinking went, they would succeed.

So most recently they put the permission to drill in a big budget bill. The only way you can vote against it is to vote against the budget. The GOP controls both sides of the Congress, so that was not expected to be a prob. Even if the Dems vote against it, it would go through, if the Reps showed their acclaimed party loyalty.

They did in the Senate and the bill sailed through. Not so in the House, where a group of 22 moderate Republicans dug in their heels and pointed out you once you start the omlet, you can't uncrack the eggs. They were going to vote against the budget if the odious rider was attached.

Now normally this would have resulted in some arm-twisting and deal-making, but in the case the GOP managers blinked, and dropped the rider.

And what makes this interesting is that amoung those 22 rebel moderates was my district's Rep, Dave Reichert. Being a first-termer usually means you lay low and toe the party line on votes, but Reichert has proved to be independent on issues that he has been knowledgeable on. This in the past has included police and national security (he's the former King County Sherrif). Now he's willing to buck his party's conventional wisdom on environment as well, reminding his brethren that he represents his constituents, not the party brass.

When a politician does the right and the principled thing, he deserves to be rewarded. Good move, Mr. Reichert. I speak for the people of the 8th when I say I'd like to see more of it.

More later,