Monday, October 08, 2007

Obama on Faith and Energy

Today Barack Obama addressed a "multiracial evangelical congregation in traditionally conservative Greenville, South Carolina" (which is a really nice place) and stated "I think it's important, particularly for those of us in the Democratic Party, to not cede values and faith to any one party,"

from CNN:

Obama: GOP doesn't own faith issue

"I think that what you're seeing is a breaking down of the sharp divisions that existed maybe during the '90s," said Obama. "At least in politics, the perception was that the Democrats were fearful of talking about faith, and on the other hand you had the Republicans who had a particular brand of faith that oftentimes seemed intolerant or pushed people away."

Obama said he was pleased that leaders in the evangelical community such as T.D. Jakes and Rick Warren were beginning to discuss social justice issues like AIDS and poverty in ways evangelicals were not doing before.

"I think that's a healthy thing, that we're not putting people in boxes, that everybody is out there trying to figure out how do we live right and how do we create a stronger America," Obama said.

He finished his brief remarks by saying, "We're going to keep on praising together. I am confident that we can create a Kingdom right here on Earth."

If Obama keeps talking like this (and walks the walk) he may be able to shore up some of the the gap between himself and Mrs. Clinton. Obama has Clinton beat when it comes to seeming genuine. Any large scale attempt by Hillary to bring faith into the picture risks seeming calculated and may ultimately backfire against her.

Additionally the details of Obama's energy plan were distributed today to the news wires in preparation for an upcoming speech.

From the AP:

Obama proposes deep greenhouse gas cuts

"Our energy problem has become an energy crisis because no matter how well-intentioned the promise, no matter how bold the proposal, they all fall victim to the same Washington politics that has only become more divided and dishonest; more timid and calculating; more beholden to the powerful interests that have the biggest stake in the status quo," Obama said.
There are some in this race who actually make the argument that the more time you spend immersed in the broken politics of Washington, the more likely you are to change it," he said. "I find this a little amusing."

Without naming Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton or other rivals, Obama said those with long Washington experience have failed to act on issues such as higher fuel economy standards for cars and trucks.

"When they had the chance to stand up and require automakers to raise their fuel standards, they refused. When they had multiple chances to reduce our dependence on foreign oil by investing in renewable fuels that we can literally grow right here in America, they said no," he said.

He proposed a modified "cap and trade" approach to reducing emissions that would require businesses to buy allowances to pollute, creating an incentive to reduce energy usage.

Under a traditional cap and trade system, power plants or businesses that exceed pollution caps must buy or trade for additional capacity, generally from plants that have taken steps to reduce their emissions. Unlike some of his rivals, Obama said he would auction all allowances rather than grandfathering some to big emitters such as oil and coal companies.

Obama proposed using $150 billion from the sale of allowances to stimulate climate-friendly energy and economic development. Included would be developing the next generation of biofuels and fuel delivery infrastructure, accelerating commercial production of plug-in hybrid vehicles, promoting larger-scale renewable energy projects and low-emission coal plants, and making the electricity grid digital.

He also called for making government, businesses and homes 50 percent more energy efficient by 2030, with all federal government buildings carbon neutral by 2025. Incandescent light bulbs would be phased out by 2014, a measure Obama estimates would save consumers $6 billion a year on their electric bills.

Not bad but Obama and Dems in general need to start painting reducing greenhouse emissions in the terms of fighting terrorism first and fighting global warming second in order to appeal to more swing voters and energize the public. Terrorism is a far less nebulous threat than climate instability after all.

Now all Obama has left to do is gather enough swing voters, independents, and moderates to gain 19 points in the polls. That is no mean feat but maybe if his message is different enough from Clinton's and he borrows a few pages from the Ron Paul / Howard Dean play book he can
at least split the difference. I'm still counting on him taking a VP slot late in the primaries.

h/t to Gristmill and Memeorandum