January 19, 2012

You know, the GOP won on Keystone XL

The president's Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, Kerri-Anne Jones laid out the case, as weak as it was, for declining to go ahead on the Keystone pipeline.
We wanted to talk today about the announcement that we have made. As you know, today the Department of State recommended to President Obama that the presidential permit for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline be denied and that at this time the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline be determined to not serve the national interest. The President agreed with the Department’s recommendation. This recommendation was predicated on the fact that the Temporary Payroll Tax Cut Continuation Act that was passed in December does not provide sufficient time to obtain the information that we think is necessary to assess whether the project, in its current state, is in the national interest.

As you – many of you know, we made a decision on November 10th that we needed additional information regarding this project, specifically about alternative routes through Nebraska. And we base this decision now on the fact that we don’t have time to get that information, information we think is essential for making a well-informed decision.
The more I think about it, the more I think the president got snookered by the GOP on the Keystone pipeline.  He was forced to decide on behalf of the environmentalists and against the unions pushing him to support it for jobs.  He couldn't let the GOP win the war of ideas.  The GOP could say they forced the president to back their efforts on jobs.  That's the last thing he wanted.

So he tried to leave the door open to another try while blaming the Republicans for his decision. It didn't work. He's sided with environmentalists over jobs and energy.  That's a losing formula right now. Instead of giving in on the pipeline he decided to act tough and dig in his heels and it's going to work against him in the bigger picture.

In addition to looking bad on the economy from this, he might have just showed us his biggest weakness. He can be pushed into bad positions while trying to play all sides and look like he's everybody's hero.  The only reason he took a stand was because he didn't want Republicans to look good for pushing jobs.  His decision was clearly political and he doesn't seem to realize that national interest decisions that are based on political calculus are almost invariably wrong.

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