Pipeline Politics

So today President Obama made official his rejection of the Keystone XL Pipeline, citing as the reason the Republicans insisting on a decision within 60 days. Apparently they thought they could scare him into approving it quickly. Jim, I know you had decided you were for the pipeline, so I hope this doesn’t disappoint you too much. I have previously made clear my scientific and economic reasons for being against the pipeline, and now that it has been rejected we can talk about the politics of it. Sure, the Right will have a field day with this, crying about lost jobs and how the president doesn’t care about energy independence blah blah blah. And here is the thing to remember; if he had approved it, they would have still had a field day. I can hear Bill O’Reilly clearly: “This was purely a political decision, creating these jobs now in the reelection season. If Obama had really cared about jobs and energy he would have approved the pipeline long ago. This is really nothing more than politics and a sign of weak politics at that. He simply caved to the Republicans and finally did what was best for the country all along. He went against his own proclamation that he needed a year to decide, and this just makes him look weak. He hopes it will help him politically, and I don’t think it is going to work. The American people will see right through it.”
And O’Reilly would be the nice one among them having a field day. Politically, Obama had to reject the pipeline. He has finally done something his base has been calling for, and he kept his promise that he couldn’t approve it with less than another year of study. If he had approved the pipeline, I really believe that with that single swipe of the pen he would have guaranteed his defeat in November. Thousands of people got arrested protesting the pipeline. It was a key issue among young people, the core of Obama’s base that he needs to have work for him this summer and to vote for him in November. If he had abandoned them on this, they would maybe have still voted for him, though many would stay home, and many more would lose enthusiasm and would not spend the summer going door to door and making phone calls to help the reelection effort. Remember, in 2008 Obama won the vote of people under 30 by about two to one. In 2010, about ten million fewer people under 30 voted than had voted in 2008. And in the great Republican landslide of 2010, the Republicans in total got around five million more votes than the Democrats. The Republican landslide was largely young people staying home.
The young people are our future, and they are the critical element in getting Obama reelected. They matter far more than whoever his opponent may be. Rejecting the pipeline doesn’t guarantee his victory in November, but it is a big step towards that. And it is the first thing in too long that might actually galvanize and energize the Democratic base. Now let’s build some windmills!


About JP

We're two guys who met in college, in 1980. We've stayed in touch, and like to talk politics, current events, music and religion. JP is nore liberal than Sid, but not in every way. We figure that dialogue stimulates ideas, moderates perspective, and is in general friendly. These are things we need badly in these dangerous times. The blog name is taken from a song by Bruce Cockburn.
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