28 June 2005

Nelson fights offshore oil drilling

Following a flip-flop earlier this year by his senate colleague, Republican Senator Mel Martinez, who voted for an expansion of oil drilling and weakened the ban on drilling off the Florida Gulf Coast, Democratic Senator Bill Nelson is now taking his fight directly to the people of the Sunshine State.

On his senate web site, Nelson allows Florida citizens to sign an online petition that sends a clear message to the federal government and the Bush administration that Floridians "don't want big oil companies setting up rigs or using seismic explosions off Florida's coast."

Nelson, a former astronaut, congressman, and state insurance commissioner, has been a leading critic of the Bush administration's goal of increased oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. While Martinez has changed his position and says that he now opposes oil drilling off Florida's coast, Nelson has been consistent in his opposition.

16 Comments:

Blogger rcm said...

You can't escape the rancid smell of Martinez's flip flop decision. It's like a major league pitcher throwing a home run ball, running to centerfield to help the outfield, and watching the ball sail over everyone's head. Thanks for everything, creep!

12:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mel Martinez has become such a disappointment. One day he believes one thing, then he gets a call from the White House and his position takes a 180 degree turn.

Scott Maxwell from the Orlando Sentinel wrote a great piece showing how Mel is a total flip-flopper, and apparently not very smart either. Check it out:

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/columnists/orl-locmaxwell26062605jun26,0,4681960.column

Follow the bouncing ball -- Martinez talks

Scott Maxwell

June 26, 2005

The recent press release from U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez's office seemed to support the notion that Martinez is no longer responsible for the words that come from his mouth.

In trying to make the case that the conditions at Guantánamo Bay weren't really all that bad, Martinez's office quoted him as saying: "I've been there, and as the former Commissioner of Orange County, I can tell you firsthand that the conditions at Guantánamo are better than those at the Orange County Jail."

It's strange that Martinez would say he used to be "the former Commissioner of Orange County."

Because he wasn't.

He was the chairman.

Now the title is mayor.

It was never "commissioner." And, in the past, Martinez has spent a lot of time correcting other people who got it wrong.

Now the mistake certainly wasn't life-or-death. And Melissa Shuffield, a genuine and capable staffer who hasn't been involved in Martinez's earlier staff flubs (the memo that talked about the political benefits of Terri Schiavo and calling Bill McCollum "the new darling of homosexual extremists"), explained that she simply made a mistake. She pointed to Martinez's remarks on the Senate floor, where he correctly named his former position.

Still, trying to figure out what Martinez is saying can be as confusing as figuring out his former title.

Two weeks ago, after all, Martinez went out on a limb. As worldwide pressure mounted on the United States to do something about the facility at Guantánamo Bay -- where some prisoners have been kept for years without being charged with a crime and where accusations of human-rights violations have mounted -- Martinez raised the specter of closing it down.

His suggestion wasn't rash. Or even concrete. Martinez merely wondered aloud if there weren't a way "this can be done a little better." And he asked: "How much good do you get out of having a facility there?"

Still, it was the shot heard 'round the Beltway.

Vice President Dick Cheney was asked to respond to Martinez's remarks. A Fox News pundit compared Martinez to former President Jimmy Carter. A Miami Herald headline proclaimed: "Senator Martinez Displayed a Rare Independent Streak."

That had to be stopped.

So, a few days later, Martinez gave his speech on the Senate floor and sent out the release. It was headlined: "MARTINEZ: PEOPLE DETAINED AT GUANTANAMO BAY ARE WELL-TREATED."

That line didn't sound much like this one he had said the week before: "It's not very American, by the way, to be holding people indefinitely."

No, the speech was filled with platitudes about Guantánamo Bay and the military personnel who work there. And when he spoke on the Senate floor, while he briefly questioned Gitmo's impact on diplomacy, talk of shuttering the facility was gone.

So the heavy burden of explaining these positions falls on the shoulders of those like Shuffield, who concluded: "The Senator has been consistent. He stands by his original statements and has elaborated."

8:24:00 PM  
Anonymous tdog said...

Good for Nelson. Democrats want to know how to win the panhandle again - take a look. All politics is local!

10:54:00 AM  
Blogger Swamp Pundette said...

While I agree on the drilling issue, at least with the knowledge I have now, Mike Thomas wrote a great editorial on it today in the Orlando Sentinel.

3:55:00 PM  
Blogger RightDemocrat said...

Recent polls in Florida showed that U.S. Senator Bill Nelson has only a 44 percent approval rating among state voters. While Nelson is leading in polls over the only major announced opponent, it is certainly an ominous sign when a well known incumbent U.S. Senator is starting a re-election bid with low voter approval rating. Nelson will be targeted by the Republican Party and millions of dollars will be spent by the GOP on attack ads labeling the Senator as a liberal out of touch with Florida voters.

Bill Nelson needs to wake up and get back in contact with the concerns of Florida voters before it is too late. It should be noted that Florida's other Senator (the Bush administration's rubber stamp) Mel Martinez is also quite out of step with voters and hopefully will be defeated for re-election if he runs again in 2010 but that is a long time from now. Nelson's vote for CAFTA is a bad indicator. CAFTA will hurt working Americans in Florida and elsewhere by encouraging more exportation of our jobs. CAFTA will also be devastating to Florida's sugar industry which plays a critical role in the state's economy. It is disappointing that Bill Nelson lacks the courage to stand up to the special interests that are forcing free trade at all costs down our throats. Of course, a pro free trade position fits the big business party line of the Bushes and Mel Martinez very well, but it will not gain a single vote for Bill Nelson.

Nelson must give working Floridians a reason to support his candidacy. He needs to reconnect with rural Florida and recognize that his vote against the constitutional amendment banning gay marriage was another self-defeating action. Bill Nelson might take a lesson from the other Democratic Senator Nelson of Nebraska who recently reversed his opposition to the Marriage Protection Amendment. Our society and I suspect the gay community as well is simply not ready for gay marriage. Senator Nelson needs to recognize that Florida voters are fed up with illegal immigration and it is time for him to do something about it. Nelson has taken some positions that are likely to benefit him politically such as opposing offshore oil driling, Social Security privatization and fighting the closure of Florida military bases. Still, Nelson has a long way to go as far as gaining the enthusiastic support of working class Democrats and winning over some of the moral values voters who are critical to winning North and Central Florida.

1:02:00 AM  
Anonymous Mark said...

RightDemocrat makes some good points about Nelson. I think our senator is in serious trouble, and I will not be surprised at all if Florida has two GOP senators after next November. I do disagree however with RightDemocrat's position on the Gay Marriage Amendment.

While I agree that most Americans are not "ready" for gay marriage, putting a prohibition into the US Constitution is not a good idea. Look at the problems we have in Florida by putting things in the constitution that don't belong there. We can't let that trend start at the federal level.

Most states have DOMAs, and I'm assuming that as the years go by, most states will eventually repeal them. I agree that the issue can't be rushed, but we can't run away from it either.

I think Nelson was wise to vote the way that he did on the Gay Marriage Amendment. It may not have been politically convenient, but it was the right choice.

1:57:00 PM  
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