While American families continue to struggle with record high oil and gas prices, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi cynically plays politics with national energy policy. Responding to rising rhetorical pressure from House Republicans calling for increased drilling in ANWAR and the Outer Continental Shelf, the California Democrat has colluded with vulnerable party colleagues in the House in a surreptitious exercise in political good cop/bad cop. Encouraging vulnerable and freshman Democratic House members to display their independence on the energy issue if it benefits them politically, Pelosi has positioned herself to take the burn on behalf of her party with her dogged refusal to allow a vote on what is a growing national consensus calling for expanded oil and gas drilling. And why has the Speaker set herself up to be the lightning rod in the political storm over energy? Simple - the numbers are on her side; both in her home district and nationally. Moreover, she sleeps soundly at night, secure in the knowledge her San Fransican constituents has the same contemptuous view of Middle America she currently displays. Accordingly, biding their time for what they believe will be Democratic domination of both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue as well as both houses of Congress; Pelosi and the House Democratic leadership sees no need to compromise with Republicans and have opted instead to wait until a new president and Congress is sworn in. Based on their anticipated victories in the upcoming election, they believe they will be able to pass a comprehensive energy bill that stays true to the Democratic principals of limited drilling, increased funding for alternative energy and a windfall profits tax on big oil. The reality is we will have a new president in three months, and what Bush and the Republicans are trying to do amounts to a land grab for the oil companies. I dont think we have to give in at all pre-election we have many more options postelection, Martin Kady II and Patrick OConner quoted one senior House Democratic aide involved with party strategy in a piece at Politico.com. In the interim, the Democrats unconscionable and cynical ploy will cost American families billions of dollars as record oil and gas prices continue to create inflationary ripples throughout the economy. Worse still, struggling to stay afloat amidst recessionary conditions, many may find themselves overwhelmed by what are projected to be record heating oil and natural gas prices this coming winter. With cost of living increases failing to keep pace with the inflationary impact of the rise in these critical commodity prices, the elderly and those on fixed incomes in the Northeast feel particularly exposed in the face of what may be the hardships of a harsh winter; both meteorologically and financially. Instead of providing political cover for her party compatriots, what Speaker Pelosi has done is cast a pall over them. At this point, one cannot help but view pro-drilling Democratic candidates with a high degree of suspicion, if not outright contempt. This includes the supposed compromise of Senate Democrats in the so-called Gang of Ten. However, what the cynically Machiavellian tactics of the Speaker have produced is a rare opportunity for Senator Barack Obama. Putting his political capital where his mouth is, Senator Obama should immediately choose leadership over partisanship and condemn the Speakers tactics for what they are; reprehensible partisan political gain at the expense of American families and businesses. This would be a true demonstration of leadership as well as a tangible and historic example of the change the junior Senator from Illinois has so eloquently spoken of. The time has come for the Senators deeds to equal his lofty rhetoric. Let him firmly grasp the mantle of leadership before him and clearly put nation before party. In the process he will become the legendary figure so many already mistakenly believe him to be. The time for change has indeed come, faithful readers. And clearly that change is needed in the leadership of the House. Stay tuned for further updates as events warrant and the cynicism grows.