Most Read: Opinions

direct signup

Today’s Opinions poll

Would you use an app that tells you the partisan affiliation of products you're considering buying?

Review your answers and share
The Insiders
Posted at 07:23 AM ET, 01/19/2012

A missed opportunity on the Keystone pipeline?

Is it just me or did President Obama miss an opportunity on the Keystone pipeline? In a long-awaited decision with pre-scripted reactions, the president came down on the side of environmentalists. Or did he? The presidential statement explained his decision not as a glowing defense of stopping the most carbon intensive form of energy extraction known, but rather as the result of being jammed by House Republicans who had set a deadline for the president.

Environmentalists cheered; Mitt Romney and his Republican allies howled, and the stage is set for both sides to play the issue for their bases. Voila! Drop the gloves; let’s get it on.

But the president doesn’t seem eager to fight. He could have used this moment to lead with a much stronger message on global warming and the insanity of ever-dirtier energy sources, and rally part of his dispirited base. But he didn’t, even leaving the door open for a new route to be presented for approval, albeit after November.

Maybe there is something to Andrew Sullivan’s notion I mentioned yesterday that the president has a strategy that most of us can’t fathom. Maybe the president is playing a longer game in which he positions himself as the reasonable one amid the insanity of Washington. He isn’t against the pipeline and its jobs per se — he just doesn’t want to be rushed into a decision with profound implications for the local and global environment. Sound pretty reasonable. I just hope it is a strategy.

By  |  07:23 AM ET, 01/19/2012

Read what others are saying

    © 2011 The Washington Post Company