The Keystone XL pipeline project was, in a manner, a dare. The project was started under President Bush, is focused on fossil fuel, and Republicans love it. When it was placed before Democrats, they balked, insisting on EPA review. It got 2 of them, and was place before President Obama. The dare was if he would pass it.
The problem for President Obama was multiple. The Keystone XL pipeline was another link to Canada – the largest non-OPEC source of oil and the neighbor of the nation. The cost of oil from Canada would reduce the funds going overseas, to unfriendly nations, and cut expeditures in the budget over its lifetime. It would prevent China from getting the oil it needs, hindering the main military and economic threat to America’s future. It would create 20,000 jobs by most estimates, long-term jobs at that. It would improve the prospects of America in the minds of investors, likely boosting the investment markets. It even would likely boost the flagging opinion of President Obama in the middle of America, markedly improving his negligible chance of re-election.
Those are all problems because the Keystone XL pipeline was opposed by unions, enviromentalists, and the far-left. These are the key supporters of President Obama. They are also the most clear indication of his own personal political beliefs. To support Keystone would be to turn his back on his own political dogma, admit his efforts to specific solar and wind energy alternatives (Solyndra, et al) were incorrect and bad bets, and hinder the funding he would receive for his re-election effort.
An example is Susie Tompkins Buell, a reportedly close friend of Hillary Clinton and Democrat fundraiser responsible for raising over $1 million by her own estimate. Recently she joined 1,000 people in protesting the Keystone pipeline (before the President made his decision), and was quoted by CNN as saying the following in regard to funding President Obama’s re-election,
Another example is Michael Kieschnick. President and co-founder of CREDO Mobile and Working Assets – a self-acknowledged Obama supporter in 2008 who made $4,400 in personal donations to the Obama campaign and who’s company has donated $5 million to anti-Keystone interests – was also at the protest.
Thus President Obama chose to punt. He decided that there would be no answer until 2013, after the election, and giving the State Department (under Secretary Hillary Clinton – an avid opponent of Keystone) a chance to render yet another study on the impact of Keystone on the nation.
Republicans would not stand for this. They smelled the fear of political ramifications sweating off of President Obama. They pressed him into making a decision in the first quarter of 2012. Just a simple yes or no. No room for acedemic introspection or political wrangling of the answer. President Obama said no.
A week later during the 2012 State of the Union Address, President Obama uttered the following:
“This country needs an all-out, all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of American energy – a strategy that’s cleaner, cheaper, and full of new jobs.” – 47th paragraph of State of the Union
It flies in the face of his decision to reject the Keystone XL pipeline. A decision that now has Canada selling the oil we need to China. A decision that effectively keeps tens of thousands of Americans out of work. A decision that in conjunction with the above statement from the State of the Union, implies that Americans are to dumb to recall political events seperated by a week.
Thus, Republicans have thrown down the gauntlet. Again.
According to Speaker Boehner
It’s like kids in a schoolyard. A dare is made and rejected. Then the dare is pressed again, this time with the taunt, “I double dare you!”
Republicans have double-dared President Obama. They have placed the ball in the President’s lap. Effectively they saying that if, as was stated in the State of the Union, all-of-the-above is the path for America then the Keystone XL pipeline must be part of that path – unless political preferences and re-election politics are above the interests of the nation.
Unlike schoolyard taunts, this dare equates to tens of thousands of jobs and potentially tens of billions of dollars a year. It encompasses retaining our friends, and making life just a touch harder for enemies. It risks emboldening the re-election prospects of President Obama, at the price of improving the economy long-term.
In the opinion of this commentary, we think this is a dare President Obama should take. Yes Speaker Boehner will look like a hero, and Republicans in Congress will be bolstered. Yes, President Obama might lose a few cushy far-left supporters. Yes, the President will be noted for flip-flopping on a major issue in short time.
But the benefit to the nation overwhelms the political shortfall, or at least it should if that is the main consideration. As well, the President will claim (without question) credit for actually creating tens of thousands of jobs – of promoting a plan that without debate (Stimulus and “saved jobs”) improved employment and the economy.
The President will also gain some favor in the middle of America, where his election prospects are weak (as his current re-election speaking tour proves). The gratitude of people with a potential for work and saving their homes will likely carry over to votes that otherwise will avoid the President. And the President has cover in that the EPA has twice reported that Keystone poses no outlandish or nightmarish enviromental risk that eco-fanatics fear.
Rarely, in the post-2006 political circus, has there been an issue that both sides can promote simultaneously that equally provides a benefit to the nation. This isn’t a dare in fact, but a call for sanity.