A Wedgie for Obama

By inserting language into the payroll tax cut that forces the President to say yea or nay to the Keystone pipeline, Republicans in Congress, with the help of several democrats, have given the President a political wedgie.

It’s a lose lose lose for Obama.

1. Ten days ago the President vowed to veto the bill if the Keystone language was inserted. If he signs the bill, he’ll be eating his words. And damaging the credibility of his next veto threat.

2. If he approves the project, well…the greens will have a hissy fit. While they will still vote for Obama, said Betsy Taylor, an advisor to the Church of Global Warming, they will not work for him or raise money for him or activate their networks for him. But they will make a lot of noise.

3. If he kills the project, a move sure to please the Sierra Club and the green beans, he risks the wrath of blue collar workers who would do the digging and make the steel for the 1700 mile pipeline connecting Canada to the Gulf Coast. And, having killed the project, he’d look like a childish fool in the commercial sure to come of the President demanding a jobs bill before Congress, then killing a project that would create thousands of new private sector jobs.

There are other potential problems for the President if he sides with the greens. Canada has made clear they are going to produce the tar sands oil whether we want it or not. And the Canadians have made clear that they are willing to sell it to China, a country that will soon overtake the United States as the mightiest economic engine on earth. It is not hard to imagine a spot asserting the President has created more jobs and economic growth in China than he has his own country.

And of course, the legislation will keep the pipeline in the news well in 2012, providing plenty of talking points for the Republican crop of Presidential candidates and probably a few labor union leaders as well who will be missing the dues from the jobs that won’t be happening.

There is a lesson in this for all those who are running for public office. Never miss an opportunity to put your opponent between a rock and a hard place, or to force an opponent to choose between key components of his own base. And best if you make your opponent do it in public.

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Political consultant Jay Townsend works with smart, passionate candidates who want to run for office, win elections and make a difference. He has successfully helped candidates learn how to run for the U.S. Senate, how to run for Congress, how to run for Mayor and develop a winning campaign marketing strategy.

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