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:
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.