Obama Steals a GOP Slogan on Energy

Photograph by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

On Face the Nation this week, CBS anchor Bob Schieffer asked David Axelrod, President Obama’s top strategist, what the administration planned to do to lower gas prices. Before summing up the GOP’s recent claims that the President caused gas prices to spike as “snake oil,” Axelrod said:

An “all-of-the-above energy policy.” We’ve been hearing this kinda awkward, kinda clever talking point from the Obama camp a lot lately. In an event at the University of Miami last month, the President invoked it three times in one speech. He first started using it, as far as I can tell, in his State of the Union address in January. (Every time I hear it—shudder—I’m reminded of an S.A.T. question.)

Obama uses the slogan—a variation on the more common “we’re putting all options on the table” theme—to say it should be domestic priority No. 1 to produce more oil here in the U.S. at the same time that we work on developing renewable alternatives. It seems perfect for an administration that tries to satisfy everyone and needs to prove to skeptical voters that it’s not hostile to oil and gas production.

But actually, the slogan appears to have come straight out of the GOP playbook. Multiple times during his presidential campaign, Senator John McCain called for an “all-of-the-above approach” to energy. “Nuclear power alone is not enough,” the Arizona senator said in August 2008. “Drilling alone is not enough. We need to do all this and more. That is why I am calling for an ‘all of the above’ approach.”

If Obama is trying to appease the opposition by co-opting their messaging, it hasn’t exactly received a warm response. That’s because, despite the identical language, the policies are different. “Most of the increased use of renewables has been taken up at the state level, or has been driven by the market,” says Joel Darmstadter, senior fellow at the nonpartisan think tank Resources for the Future. “It has been influenced by federal policies, but not those launched by the Obama administration.”

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