As frustrating as it is to try to think politically, here are a few things to consider with regard to the passage of the Keystone-Pipeline Bill in Congress:
For a Republican Party that has allowed itself to be characterized by the media as excessively callous toward public opinion, it is a laudable accomplishment. Not only does it put Democrats (especially President Obama) in the position of having to answer either to the environmental crowd or to the pro-economic-growth segment of the moderate Left, but also because it signals a new era of Republican togetherness and compromise in the face of an obstructive executive.
Most likely, President Obama will veto the bill. To him, the Keystone Pipeline is symbolic of the irresponsible usage of fossil fuels by capitalists in the private sector. But it remains to be seen whether or not he will be able to adequately explain this action to the public, especially considering the state of his approval amidst horrid foreign developments and economic ambiguity in the domestic arena. For all his rhetorical prowess, this seems to me to be a losing proposition for the President – a harbinger of his declining ability to bedazzle Americans with his charm and a sign of the volatility of his coming legacy.
Republicans must recognize however, that any incremental political benefit they gain from the Keystone issue will be altogether lost if they mindlessly attack President Obama for merely using the veto. After all, the federal government is designed in such a way as to ensure that the executive has a significant ability to check Congress’ power. Republicans need to criticize the President’s actual position on the Keystone Pipeline rather than his use of his implicit veto power, lest they end up embarrassing themselves in front of a populace that considers them hysteric. Regardless, I am not confident that this message would or will resonate with the likes of Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, and the tea-party coalition.
So, although it is true that Keystone is most likely destined to perish under President Obama’s ballpoint pen, those of us who actually believe in the American system as it was created by the Founders can at least take solace in the fact that the President will be doing his job as it is delineated by the Constitution. This, indeed, is a far cry from his cowardly, perverse move on immigration policy – changing the law through executive fiat as if he were a monarch disillusioned with parliament, egotistically taking power into his own clumsy hands in some grand ruse. I, personally, am deeply convinced that process is important, in and of itself; if anything, this whole Keystone debacle will, by its end, illustrate the brilliance – but not the efficiency – of our structured, confined bureaucracy.