Keystone Pipeline

As part of the two-month exten­sion of the pay­roll tax cut, GOP offi­cials demand­ed an expe­dit­ed deci­sion on the project.

And Oba­ma did the only thing he could do giv­en that lim­i­ta­tion. He stopped the project.

Steve Benen at The Wash­ing­ton Month­ly, at the end of his post on the sub­ject, includes this claim that Oba­ma’s deci­sion was an act of courage:

Bill McK­ibben, 350.org founder and Key­stone XL protest leader,issued a state­ment this after­noon, laud­ing Pres­i­dent Oba­ma. “[T]his isn’t just the right call, it’s the brave call,” McK­ibben said. “The knock on Barack Oba­ma from many quar­ters has been that he’s too con­cil­ia­to­ry. But here, in the face of a naked polit­i­cal threat from Big Oil to exact ‘huge polit­i­cal con­se­quences,’ he’s stood up strong.”

Ann Alt­house thinks the deci­sion was pure politics:

It was­n’t so much a ques­tion of whether he should make the right deci­sion or do what would help him get re-elect­ed. It was which way to decide would bet­ter help him get re-elected.

Alt­house is prob­a­bly clos­er to the truth.

I may be mis­tak­en, but I detect a hint of snark in Alt­house­’s com­ment. Since Oba­ma has stopped try­ing to com­pro­mise with the Repub­li­cans and start­ed being more con­fronta­tion­al, I have come across many com­plaints from the right about how Oba­ma is now in “cam­paign” mode.

Of course they com­plain of it. Oba­ma is very good at cam­paign­ing, too good from the GOP per­spec­tive. If they did not want him in cam­paign mode, they should have been more coop­er­a­tive when he was in “gov­ern­ing” mode.

Also from Benen’s post:

I’d argue that this is the out­come Repub­li­cans want­ed all along. The GOP didn’t real­ly want the pipeline; they want­ed the abil­i­ty to whine about the absence of the pipeline. This wasn’t, in oth­er words, about ener­gy pro­duc­tion; this was about cre­at­ing an issue for the 2012 campaign.

I agree with that. But I think this back­fires on the GOP (though in the end it won’t mean much either way). Oba­ma now gets cred­it from the lib­er­als for stop­ping the project and can per­sua­sive­ly argue to mod­er­ates that the GOP tied his hands.

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