Erika has already laid out the policy folly of the Obama administration's feckless and ideological rejection of the Keystone XL project, so let's consider how Republicans should respond to this mess. For all its alleged prowess, the Obama political team makes its share of tin-earned decisions -- whether it's pursuing an unpopular healthcare power grab in the midst of a jobs crisis, throwing lavish parties at inopportune times, or taking legal action to block supermajority-supported immigration and voter ID laws. The Keystone decision might take the tone-deafness cake, however, and the GOP should exploit it to inflict maximum political pain on the White House.
The president and his minions are running around carping about how "we can't wait" to create jobs in this country by passing every statist, unpaid-for bill they can dream up, yet the administration has moved to reject -- or at least severely delay -- a project that would create 20,000 direct jobs. (Critics claim the more accurate total is "only" a few thousand jobs, as if that's an argument). The pipeline would also help nudge the country toward the very "energy independence" that politicians of both parties frequently describe as an important goal. Too bad, we're told. We can wait, apparently. The White House is hiding behind the State Department's skirts to justify this decision, claiming that they didn't have sufficient time to review the project. The Keystone XL proposal has been reviewed for three years. Also, contrast this logic with the administration's method of shoddily distributing billions in stimulus money to their "green energy" bankrollers at Solyndra and elsewhere. In those cases, they knowingly fast-tracked dubious loans to companies with failed business models. Thousands of jobs and billions of taxpayer dollars were simply lost -- and the president airily says he doesn't regret his mistakes.
In short, in order to appease his deep-pocketed extreme environmentalist pals, President Obama has effectively killed an effort that (1) enjoys majority public support, (2) has attracted significant Democratic backing, (3) would create up to 20,000 American private sector jobs, (4) would reduce our dependence on foreign oil, (5) is ardently supported by our Canadian allies, and (6) tracks his own jobs council's recommendations. Way to go, champ. If Republicans can't carry this message to the American people, what's the point of having an opposition party?
UPDATE - House Republicans have taken to the House floor to lambaste the decision, and RNC chairman Reince Priebus has released this scathing statement:
“President Obama’s decision to block the Keystone XL energy pipeline is both economically destructive and politically self-serving. He has sacrificed 20,000 American jobs and an affordable, secure energy source simply to please his liberal base. With Americans suffering from high unemployment and high energy prices, the president has once again ignored the needs of the American people,” said RNC Chairman Reince Priebus. “Obama’s failure to lead on the economy is a reminder of how desperately America needs a new direction. Today, Barack Obama proved he will say anything to save his job but do nothing to create jobs for the unemployed. America cannot afford four more years of misplaced priorities. We need a president who puts the interests of the American people ahead of the special interests.”
I hope the Right runs with this issue and turns it into a full-fledged (and richly deserved) PR nightmare for the president.
UPDATE II - Conn Carroll destroys Obama's bogus talking points on Keystone. Read it.
UPDATE III - Guess how much money this pipeline would cost taxpayers? Zero dollars. Boehner and Cantor have called a press conference this afternoon to pound away on this mess.
UPDATE IV - Newt Gingrich rips this news as "stunningly stupid," and Mitt Romney blasts Obama for his "shocking and revealing" decision. As a commenters suggests below, the GOP candidates should flog this issue during Thursday's debate, whether CNN wants to talk about it or not.