Obama and Keystone: is McGuinty playbook out the window?

In late January, the U.S. president halted progress on the Keystone XL pipeline, which will—when it is finally built—bring Alberta syncrude from Oklahoma to the Texas gulf coast. The pipeline currently runs from the Alberta oilsands to Oklahoma. I speculated at the time that Obama had torn a page out of Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty’s 2011 provincial election playbook, which featured a “placate the greens and to hell with the rest” strategy. Essentially, McGuinty had decided to please downtown Toronto environmentalists at the expense of rural voters who oppose industrial wind turbines. That strategy had given McGuinty a very close victory.

Obama’s January Keystone decision seemed to reflect a similar calculation, except Obama’s “Please the Greens” strategy was at the expense of the labour lobby—building Keystone XL would create thousands of high-paid jobs. At the end of my article, I asked

… will Obama’s strategic decision to court the “environmental” lobby at the expense of the Big Labor lobby help him or hurt him as the presidential election year progresses?

It’s impossible to tell what the right answer is. But that’s less important than what Obama thinks the right answer is. And, judging from the way his upcoming decisions are being predicted today, it looks today like the president thinks the right answer is, nixing Keystone XL will hurt him.

Obama appears ready to dump the greens in his effort to win reelection, by reversing his January Keystone decision. The five luminaries who made up the McLaughlin Group on Friday March 23 2012 certainly think so. Go to 27:17 into the following video, and you’ll see all Group members were unanimous in predicting that Obama will approve the pipeline.

Everybody, including the Canadian Press in a recent article run by the Toronto Star, seems to agree.

Let’s say everybody turns out to be right, and Obama reverses this position on Keystone and fast-tracks the pipeline’s approval. Would such a decision help or hurt Obama in the November election? Make sure to vote: the poll is in the upper right sidebar.

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Glad to see whatever was causing a spam site to appear in this blog’s place yesterday has quit.