The Luck of the Republicans
They owe it all to Obama.
Mar 24, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 27 • By FRED BARNES
For the president, approving the Keystone pipeline—stretching from the oil sands of Alberta, Canada, to refineries on the Gulf Coast—should have been a snap. The State Department had studied it and concluded there was no significant environmental downside. Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper visited Obama in 2009 and stressed how important the pipeline was to his country, our closest ally and trading partner.
Yet Obama dawdled. The interest group that he fears the most, the conglomerate of environmental groups, was against it. Another study was ordered, then another—with the same conclusion. Polls showed building the pipeline was enormously popular with the public. As Obama delayed a decision, opposition by environmentalists increased. It became their top issue, an emotional one.
Keystone not only symbolized Obama’s energy policy—anti-oil and natural gas, pro-green power—it emerged as a major issue in its own right. Republicans criticized him. Some Democrats agreed. His indecision had left him in an awkward position. Whatever his decision, there will be a backlash.
In 2014, Republicans are the lucky party. Obama has given them powerful issues. Without them, they’d be talking about the deficit, the national debt, big government, entitlement reform, and Obama’s failure as a foreign policy president—legitimate issues but not the ingredients of a Republican landslide. The issues Obama fumbled—Obamacare, the economy, energy—are.
Fred Barnes is an executive editor at The Weekly Standard.
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