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Ed Ruggero
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Ed Ruggero

Ed Ruggero, author most recently of The First Men In, helps organizations develop the kinds of leaders people want to follow. His Gettysburg Leadership Experience teaches battle-tested leadership lessons that endure today.

Will the opportunity be wasted?

Q: Republican leaders have built their energy policies around increased oil and gas extraction, dismissing environmental dangers. How should they respond to the Gulf oil spill if they want to preserve offshore drilling as a politically viable option?

The Republicans have the kind of opportunity that political leaders dream about: They can get in front of a serious problem affecting millions, lose the damaging label of "the party of No," and deliver on a promise to the electorate.

Other nations that allow off-shore drilling have stricter controls in place for emergencies, requiring that rigs have shut-off systems that can cap an out-of-control well. Of course these systems, like insurance, seem an unnecessary expense, right up until you need them.

Imagine the broad appeal of a Republican effort requiring better safeguards and emergency procedures. Think of all those environmentalists who'd be surprised to find themselves agreeing with Republican congressional leaders. Think of all those millions of citizens of Gulf Coast states looking for real leadership as they watch their lives and livelihoods smothered in oil. Think of the relative ease of passing, while the story is fresh in everyone's mind, sweeping new legislation. Heck, the Republicans could even be the first to deliver the promised but-as-yet unseen bi-partisanship that every politician in both parties likes to talk about but no one seems able to create.

This environmental disaster could have a galvanizing effect on our national leadership, much the way 9/11 encouraged law-makers from all sides to support President Bush's efforts to deal with that disaster.

Or the Republicans could just look for ways to blame this on President Obama, the Democrats could find fault with the GOP, and both sides of the aisle could dither way another opportunity to lead.

By Ed Ruggero

 |  May 4, 2010; 5:00 AM ET
Category:  Political leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Comments

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What a hoot! The Republicans have an opportunity to get out front of this by proposing stronger safeguards, tougher enforcement, and more aggressive federal regulation of oil companies. That's the funniest thing I've read all year!

Go read this past week's Wall Street Journal and New Republic coverage to learn how it is that those safeguards are not ALREADY in place. I'll give you a hint: Dick Cheney.

Posted by: bcamarda2 | May 4, 2010 1:01 PM
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This is a rather odd take. The horse is out of the barn. The author prods republicans to boldly recommend that the barn door be locked next time.

Look, the issue has moved far past better safety measures. Of course better standards will be demanded of exisiting oil wells. Even so, the public will never again trust ANY promise of safety, NIMBY politics will rule the day, the consequences of failure are too dire.

The question moves on to whether there will be any new wells drilled, and more importantly, how aggressively we move towards other energy sources. If the author wants to prod the Republicans into action, dare them to adopt policies to get us off fossil fuels in 30 years.

Posted by: HuckFinn | May 4, 2010 11:31 AM
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What? Republicans Propose something that cuts into Oil Company profits?

Not in this lifetime.

Posted by: capitolidea | May 4, 2010 11:11 AM
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You think the Republicans can "get in front of a serious problem affecting millions"? If this turns out to be the biggest environmental disaster our country has ever seen and millions of people are negatively affected, implementing safeguards to reduce the risk of it happening again is not getting in front of the problem. Everybody, especially the "drill, baby, drill" crowd, is already going to suffer from this problem. There is no getting in front of it anymore.

Posted by: quickski | May 4, 2010 11:05 AM
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I would welcome a surprise from the GOP. For the past decade they seem to have gotten stuck on a couple of messages they repeat over and over.

--Government of any kind is always bad.
--Government regulations are always bad; self-regulation is always preferred.
--Private businesses always deliver better services.
--Lower taxes on the wealthy or corporations always
--Most Americans are lazy and would always prefer the public dole.
--Environmentalists are always anti-business.

I'd argue that the Republicans are not the party of "NO" but the party of "ALWAYS." Blind, unquestioning belief in a few -- to them -- certainties. Challenges not allowed. Grey areas don't exist. Debates forbidden.

It's as if voters are five-year olds and the GOP is a parent who can never be questioned.

While I am no fan of the Dems at least there you have a fairly broad specturm of opinion from Lieberman/Lincoln/Nelson to Maxine Waters and Bernie Sanders and are allowed to debate without being purged from the party Stalin-style.
--

Posted by: alonzoQuijana | May 4, 2010 10:25 AM
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An opportunity about genuine concerns because they are Republican values, or just more opportunistic lip service from the Republican leadership?

I would argue the latter, but it is for the general voting public to decide.

Posted by: busdrivermike | May 4, 2010 8:08 AM
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