Framing the Keystone debate

Tar Sands Action

Protesters take to the White House to protest the Keystone Pipeline, November 2011

Article Highlights

  • Obama's #Keystone decision is no surprise, but the fact that he was compelled to talk about it, is

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  • Keystone decision not surprising given Obama's need to secure his green base

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  • What's surprising about the #Keystone decision? How Senate Republicans acted

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The president’s decision to veto the XL Pipeline is no surprise. The fact that he was compelled to talk about it, is.

Certainly no one expected Obama to make any other decision, given the need to secure his green base and grab its cash for his campaign — nor does anyone expect the decision to survive the 2012 election, even if he’s reelected. The White House revealed its true position in its jobs report last week, which gave shale natural-gas-production companies a giant wet kiss, saying these industries “will boost investment and exports in the coming years, generating new jobs.” That applies to the shale oil industry, as well.

No, what’s surprising and impressive is how Senate Republicans pushed Obama to the wall by attaching to the bill approving the pipeline a provision requiring the president to sign on in 60 days or publicly declare the pipeline was not “in the national interest.”  

That’s using the legislative bully pulpit the way it should be used. Now for the next seven months Republicans in the House and Senate need to compel the president and other Democrats to publicly take the losing side on one issue after another by passing legislation on everything from investigating Solyndra and making English the official language to declaring the Weather Underground an official terrorist organization and stripping former members of their American citizenship.

Then let’s see which party has the best attack ads for the election.

Arthur Herman is a visiting scholar at AEI

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