Paul Wells on Keystone, Barack Obama and Stephen Harper

At Maclean’s, Paul Wells looks at President Obama’s talk about the Keystone pipeline, as well as Prime Minster Harper’s actions, to try to determine just what the hell the PM is up to.

Over at Politico Pro — where you get the really clever analyses — they found two top expert experts who said that when the President of the United States has a couple reporters over to giggle at the merits of a project, the project is a shoo-in. A third expert in the article, Charles Ebinger at Brookings, remains discouragingly literal-minded: he seems to think that when the President of the United States has a laugh about something, that means he’s not a fan.

“I’ve kind of done an about-face,” he said. “I think the president is very concerned about losing his environmental constituency going into the 2014 election season. I’m just not sure he’s really convinced we need [Keystone].”

The other two top expert experts remind me of some of the reaction in June, after Obama inserted a reference to Keystone and the “tar sands” into a global-warming speech that nobody was expecting to include a Keystone reference. Then too, some people took this as an encouraging sign. This is the Pépé Le Pew school of political analysis. Your lips, zay say non, but your eyes, zay say oui oui oui!

The whole thing is a worthwhile read. For a project that seems so very important to the Tories, their actions seem quite odd… that is, of course, unless they’ve resigned themselves to losing this issue and want to play the hurt victim. It’s a tactic they’re surprisingly good at.

By the way, regardless of the merits of the project (and I’m on the fence), I don’t believe the President’s claim that it would only create 2000 jobs – that’s just ludicrous – and I don’t believe that he believes it, either.

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3 thoughts on “Paul Wells on Keystone, Barack Obama and Stephen Harper

  1. Never bet on anything until the ink is dry, but I’ve read from more than one place that the people close to Obama want Keystone to go through, or at least don’t want to die on that particular hill. So I (a proponent) am optimistic.

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  2. It would be a good thing if Obama really was catering to the enviros on this, it seems to me. I’m undecided about the merits of the project myself, but reflexively – given the history of long pipelines – I find myself opposed.

    I find this criticism a bit confusing, tho:

    I don’t believe the President’s claim that it would only create 2000 jobs – that’s just ludicrous – and I don’t believe that he believes it, either.

    You’re calling him a liar, apparently on the premise that there is reliable data regarding the number of long term jobs created which he is aware of. Is there? I mean, in the quotation you’re referring to he explicitly excludes construction jobs from his equation. I also remember some Keystone advocates saying the project would create 1.5 million jobs.

    So, the right answer will be found somewhere within that narrow range.

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