Home National Politics Democratic “Leaders” Persist in Stupid Policy AND Stupid Politics Approach

Democratic “Leaders” Persist in Stupid Policy AND Stupid Politics Approach

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If you needed any more evidence that Democratic “leaders” are wedded to their deadly “stupid policy AND stupid politics” combo approach, which has served them (and us) so well despite it being a complete debacle in every way, today we have yet another prime example — the Keystone XL Canadian tar sands export pipeline.

For the first time in the six-year fight over the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, both houses of Congress will hold a vote on the proposed project, giving each side in a Louisiana Senate election a chance to boost its candidate.

The two lawmakers locked in the runoff contest, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) and Rep. Bill Cassidy (R), seized control of the congressional agenda Wednesday, extracting assurances from House and Senate leaders that votes will be held to bypass President Obama’s authority and authorize construction of the pipeline.

A large showing of Democratic support for the pipeline could complicate the administration’s decision-making process, given the party’s dismal showing at the polls last week. Environmentalist allies of the president are solidly against the project and have been doggedly lobbying the administration against approving it.

Yes, here we have the CLASSIC example of both bad policy AND bad politics for Democrats. The bad policy part should be obvious: at a time when we need to be rapidly slashing our greenhouse gas emissions, the Keystone XL pipeline would encourage development of some of the filthiest, most destructive, and also most expensive (around $80 per barrel to product the crap) oil on earth. And, as an added “bonus,” the Keystone pipeline wouldn’t even directly (or indirectly, for that matter) benefit the US, as this is a project to export Canadian oil to markets in Asia (e.g., China) and elsewhere, while benefiting mostly foreign investors. Oh, even better: the pipeline project would create just “35 permanent, full-time jobs and 15 temporary contractors.” That’s not “35,000” or whatever, it’s a grand total of 35 total jobs. Hell, why not just open a WalMart or whatever, it would probably create more jobs (albeit low-paying ones) and be a lot less environmentally damaging! (snark)

As for the politics of Keystone XL, it’s not like it’s going to save Mary Landrieu as a U.S. Senator. And even if it did, by some utterly bizarre miracle, it wouldn’t save the Democratic U.S. Senate majority, which they’ve already lost. More broadly, this is NOT a winner with the Democratic base. To the contrary, as a new Pew poll finds,  just 32% of liberal Democrats support this boondoggle, with 56% against. Can you imagine Republicans bringing something to a vote where conservatives were against it by a 56%-32% margin? Uhhhh…no. As for Democrats overall, it’s 43% support vs. 46% oppose. In sum, on top of being idiotic/crazy policy, Keystone XL is not a winner for Democrats politically either. There’s that wondrous combo — stupid policy AND stupid politics — which Democratic “leaders” appear to love so much. A few more examples?

*Democratic “leaders” pressuring President Obama not to issue executive orders on immigration prior to the 2014 election, for fear that it would hurt us politically. That worked out reaaaaal well, eh?

*Democrats in the Senate making the comprehensive immigration bill harsher and “more stupider,” under the theory that it would gain Republican support and pressure the House to act. So, sure, it gained a few Republican votes in the Senate, but Boehner et al. don’t appear to give a rat’s hindquarters regardless. In sum, Dems have now managed to irritate one of their most loyal voting blocs, Latinos, for absolutely no upside politically whatsoever, while worsening the policy. Yet again, stupid policy AND stupid politics.

*After basically replicating Romneycare and/or the Republican alternative to “Hillarycaer” in 1993/94, thus making the healthcare reform bill far less progressive than it might have been, Democrats were rewarded by getting…essentially ZERO Republican support anyway. Also, the strategy of letting the health care debate drag on and on interminably through 2009 and into 2010, in the hopes of gaining Republican support, hurt Democrats politically (can we say “Tea Party?”) while gaining nothing in any other way. Yet again, stupid policy AND stupid politics.

*Instead of simply passing a straight-up, revenue-neutral carbon tax (probably could write that in a page or two – a tax schedule, also stipulating that all money go back to the American people in “dividends” or lower income tax rates or whatever), Democrats thought they’d be  super clever and push for a 1,000-page, super-complicated, pork-to-every-industry (including coal, which would have been smart to grab this deal!) “cap and trade” bill. The theory, apparently, was that this wouldn’t sound like a “tax,” ergo Democrats wouldn’t be attacked for a “tax increase.” Except for one problem: of COURSE Republicans would call it a “tax” (“cap and TAX,” in Frank Luntz-style lingo) and bash it regardless. Oh, and the fact that “cap and trade” was a conservative idea to begin with? Again, Republicans didn’t care, opposed it vociferously anyway. Yet again, Democrats went for the gruesome twosome combo of stupid policy AND stupid politics, and they lost. Badly.

I could go on all day with this, but I think we all get the point: Democrats “leaders” are “too clever by half,” or to be less diplomatic about it, “idiots.” And, based on the early days of this “lame duck Congress,” they show no sign of learning from their past mistakes either. Brilliant, huh?

  • CADeminVA

    When Democrats pursue Republican objectives, they lose. But it seems like they don’t learn. I am hoping the President vetoes this benighted and unnecessary monstrosity.

  • Jim W

    Do thing that will swing the vote of the 8 percent of the center.  This strategy forgets that you are simultaneously reducing the turn out on the left.  

  • AnonymousIsAWoman

    Unfortunately this reaction of Democratic leaders to lose the base, pick up the wrong message, and tack even more to the right is so predictable that it is dreary. We’ve seen this movie before. It doesn’t end well. Not for Democrats and not for the country.

    The only thing worse than not knowing history and being doomed to repeat its worst mistakes, is taking the wrong lessons from history and repeating its worst mistakes.

    BTW, repeating the same actions over and over and hoping for a different result is actually not the definition of insanity. It’s the definition of stupidity and failure to learn.

  • campaignman

    There are many issues that liberals care deeply about and that will impact our lives.

    I am opposed to this pipeline for three reasons:

    1)  The negative symbolic impact on fighting climate change

    2)  The danger of spills to the clean water supply in that region.

    3)  The billions it would produce for the Koch brothers

    Yet, it appears that the tar sands oil will be extracted no matter what the outcome of this fight.

    It is either going to be trained, trucked or piped through Canada, although I’m sure Canada would much prefer we take the risks associated with the spills.

    Thus, what if we cut a deal on this and traded it for the passage of the immigration bill, a federal minimum wage increase or the unchallenged imposition of EPA rules that Republicans are determined to fight?

    Democrats do not control Congress.  We have lost lots of power.

    At some point, we need to be realistic and leverage what power the President has to achieve what is feasible.

    Frankly, I don’t know what kind of deal we could cut, if any, but it seems to me we should be trying given how hard it will be to prevent Congress from over-riding Barack’s veto and given that the Republicans may force it through as a rider on a government funding bill that Barack may not be inclined to veto lest he possibly be viewed as shutting down the government.