The White House's chess game is verging on being a little too clever for its own good.
The calculation is that throwing a sop to the Republicans in the form of relaxed offshore drilling restrictions will buy cooperation from them later. In fact, they will be so disarmed by this gesture that they'll dance with Obama on more ambitious energy initiatives.
Meanwhile, the Democratic "base," which counted on Obama to rectify some of the environmental misdeeds of the Bush administration--and certainly not ape them-- will have nowhere else to turn in November.
Even if the Republicans don't play ball, their slapping of this outstretched hand will prove to the public that they are, indeed, the party of obstructionism, and it will punish them on election day.
There are two things wrong with this scenario: First, it looks like the Republicans, far from being charmed, are saying that the gesture is so flimsy, it's almost an insult. Saying "no" has worked for them so far. Why change the strategy now?
Second, what Obama did was just enough to infuriate the environmentalists. Yes, they have somewhere else to go on election day, which is to go hug some tree in the backyard rather than head to the polls.
The grand plan a gamble, and not even a smart one. He could well lose, and so will the environment.