“What the [GOP] actually wanted was to embarrass Obama, and they succeeded.”
USA Today comments:
… What’s really going on here, of course, is the most craven sort of election-year politics. The Obama administration seemed to be on its way to approving Keystone when environmental groups made the pipeline a key test of their support for the president, who suddenly decided the administration couldn’t possibly make a decision until sometime after the election.
Congressional Republicans saw an opportunity to put the president in a box: Approve the pipeline and alienate core Democratic environmentalists, or reject it and let Republicans attack him for forgoing the thousands of jobs that pipeline construction would bring. As part of last December’s agreement to extend the payroll tax cuts for two months, Republicans required Obama to make a decision on the pipeline within 60 days. On Wednesday, the administration said that timetable didn’t give it enough time to evaluate alternate routes for the pipeline in Nebraska, so it would have to say no.
The administration made itself vulnerable to being hogtied on this issue by allowing the approval process to drag on far longer than necessary. But if Republicans’ highest priority was the jobs and oil the pipeline would bring, they could have tried to negotiate a mutually acceptable timetable with the president. What they actually wanted was to embarrass Obama, and they succeeded.
The biggest loser in this game of political football is the national interest.