Forget what’s in the best interests of America. It’s all come down to how it affects Obama and the Democrats as to what the vacillating chump in the White House will do when it come to the Keystone XL pipeline. He could do the right thing and side with the overwhelming majority of the country and approve the long-delayed pipeline. Or he could pander to the environmental extremists pulling his puppet strings. Decisions, decisions. Frankly, he’d rather forego doing anything and hit the links.
If Obama gives construction of the oil-sands pipeline a green light this spring or summer, he could frame it as an example of his support for North American energy production, a boost for the economy, and a helpful concession to vulnerable Senate Democrats who support the $5.4 billion project.
But he could go the other way. A flat-out rejection of the pipeline might enthuse the Democratic base for the midterm elections in November, which will hinge on turnout.
Sure, let’s sacrifice and economic boon by pandering to the fringe minority in his party. That’s sure to help. Guess their thinking on this one is the GOP voters would not turn out to show their disapproval?
The third option: Punt a decision again. A delay until after the midterms might be safest for the president because it would excite only mild criticism compared to the storm of opprobrium that would follow a firm decision either way.
Delay could also make Keystone a bargaining chip for the president in either the lame-duck session of Congress or next year, when he could face a Republican House and Senate.
It’s a vexed question, with which Obama’s canniest strategists are still wrestling. Which is perhaps why the White House evinces little enthusiasm in talking about the subject.
How about option four: Doing the right thing for America? Yeah, crazy thought, huh?
But allowing Keystone to be built would enrage environmental pressure groups, which are a powerful part of Obama’s base. Green activists vow to punish the president if he decides against them on their most important issue.
Keystone’s opponents say green-lighting the project won’t save Landrieu or any other vulnerable Democrat. In addition to enervating the base, they argue, it would anger big Democratic donors such as Tom Steyer, a billionaire hedge-fund investor who has threatened to buy advertisements against anyone who backs the pipeline.
“Turning out the base is the key to winning midterm elections and the Democratic base opposes Keystone XL,” said Jamie Henn, spokesman for 350 Action, an environmental group. “There are a lot of young people who would like to go help elect climate champions, but there is no way they will rally behind [Obama] until he says no to the pipeline.”
If he has the slightest bit of testosterone left he’d tell these clowns to go pound sand. So look for him to punt.