Friday, March 23, 2012

Sen. Tester and "All of the Above" -- the sincerest form of flattery?

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Sen. Jon Tester is making veritable goo-goo eyes at Congressman Rehberg, his opponent in this year's U.S. Senate slugfest. Forwarded to us in today’s email was a message from Montana's junior Democratic Senator entitled "An All-of-the-Above Energy Plan." It has apparently only taken Sen. Tester 4 years or so to realize that Denny Rehberg has had the pulse of the Montana electorate on this issue all along.

While we seem to recall hearing Mr. Rehberg use the phrase "all of the above" when discussing energy policy as early as 2007, the earliest reference readily available is from a Tulane University debate in July of 2008, where a report on the proceedings included this quotation:

“We depend on oil, gas, coal, wind, hydro and nuclear,” countered Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.). “Which of these is the answer to the energy challenge? All of the above and more. Leave no stone unturned.”

Granted, that was down in Louisiana, but were Sen. Tester’s staffers not checking out Montana newspapers in 2008? In case Sen. Tester missed Rehberg on “all of the above" in 2008, there is always 2009, or maybe 2010, or perhaps Congressman Rehberg's 2011 “all of the above” energy tour?

Of course, it isn't as simple as Sen. Tester directly copying Congressman Rehberg -- Tester is actually copying President Obama, who is copying Rehberg and his fellow House Republicans, who are not amused. While the rhetorical theft is indeed breath-taking in its audacity, it is politics as usual.

Republicans should be amused -- and flattered. President Obama is batting his eyelashes at their energy policy, at least when it comes to words. The GOP does, of course, have to get down to the tedious political work of making sure that the American people know that the President is following the Republican lead. Amusing as it is, one can’t let shameless rhetorical pilfering go unpunished in politics, especially when President Obama and the Democratic Party have done far more to hinder energy development than to promote it over the past 3 years.

But one hopes the GOP -- especially Denny Rehberg right here in Montana where so many of us have been hearing him talk about “all of the above” for years -- can do it with a good-natured sense of humor. With the laugh being at the President's expense... and of course Sen. Tester's.

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