The Washington Post

Some nervous Senate Dems willing to deal on the pipeline

The Republican National Committee is only too happy to give Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) some visibility this morning, sending around this clip:

This is noteworthy for a few reasons. First, by lumping the pipeline issue with the payroll tax cut bill, Republicans have succeeded in getting themselves out of a jam on the tax cut. If MSNBC’s Chuck Todd and McCaskill think the Keystone pipeline is a good idea, what are Democrats going to say when accused of “killing” those 20,000 jobs? Sen. Joe Manchin (D- W.Va.) has already weighed in, urging support for the pipeline deal.

Second, as with so many items, the White House’s interests here diverge with those of Senate Democrats. President Obama is cheering for a stalemate and hoping to get another chapter in his Republicans-are-obstructionists election fairy-tale. Democrats, especially those like McCaskill who are on the ballot in competitive races in 2012, want to get a deal done. (“Well, let’s hope we can negotiate something like that,” McCaskill said earnestly.)

Third, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s tactic of no-nothingism (no budget, no payroll tax deal) has put his Democratic colleagues in a bind. (“I think if I were going to critique Harry Reid this morning I really wish we would stop with this dead on arrival, not going to go there. . . . I don’t know why this place is so set on, you know, looking like we’re combative all the time,” McCaskill said.) I suspect she’ll be a featured player in some National Republican Senatorial Committee ads.

For liberal bloggers and activists ( but I repeat myself), the White House’s insistence on tax hikes, class warfare and environmental pandering is manna from political heaven. For Democrats in competitive seats, it is becoming the kiss of death. Look for more Senate Democrats to bash their leader and the White House as they scramble to save their own skins.

Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective.


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