By Joe Sims
The US presidential campaign may be on the verge of dramatic new stage. The cause? Public outcry over the cost of gasoline. Sensing the moment and seizing hold of the opportunity, Republicans, backed by Big Oil have been staging a speech-a-thon in the shuttered for summer vacation halls of the House of Representatives, the speech making a publicity stunt backed by an Internet driven campaigning. Wednesday, none other than Newt Gingrich joined the Republicans on the hill and threatened a new government shut down in September unless Nancy Polosi agrees to a House vote on off-shore drilling. According to a CNN poll two-thirds of Americans favor off-shore drilling now prohibited by Congress. According to the poll, the public is roughly divided on whether it will relieve prices at the pump.
CNN reported that Gingrich's entry into the fray served the purpose well, attracting more media with the threat of a new government shutdown:
“Gingrich did attract more camera crews, and he used the opportunity to point to what may be the GOP's next strategy: If Democrats refuse to hold a separate vote on oil drilling, Republicans could try to block the votes needed to keep government running past September 30. “
Gingrich it seems is the moving force behind McCain's change of heart on off-shore drilling and has mobilized a Drill Here, Drill Now campaign, funded by the world's largest oil companies. Thinkprogress.com reports that the former House speaker has re-emerged as a new leader of the Republican right, directly influencing McCain's talking points:
“Gingrich has effectively corralled the right into supporting his propaganda campaign. Sen. John McCain has now incorporated Gingrich’s line into his stump speech: “We need to drill here and we need to drill now.”
Just like the “Contract with America,” Gingrich’s new conservative takeover has its roots in a bargain with deep pockets – in this case, the deep pockets of the energy industry. Over at the Wonk Room, Brad Johnson reports that American Solutions is a front group for coal.
Right-wing groups claim to have energized a new social movement on behalf of off-shore drilling, with Gingrich boasting of over 1 million signatures. The Internet has been an organizing center of this movement. Tobin Harshaw writes in the New York Times that a right-wing blogger, Patrick Ruffini, claims a new movement is born. It's called “#dontgo:” “#dontgo is officially a movement,” announces Republican blogger Patrick Ruffini.”
With Democrat Barack Obama shifting his position a bit on off-shore drilling and the Republican right sensing opportunity and a dramatic raising of the stakes with aggressive tactics, the energy crisis has emerged as a key issue. How will the movement against right-wing extremism respond?
(By the way, does anyone remember that when Speaker of the House) Gingrich had a large photo of Lenin looking down from his wall. Poor Lenin!)