GUNTER

Good Friday news reveals bad politics

By Lorne Gunter, Edmonton Sun

Joe Oliver, Canadian minister of natural resources, speaks at the pipe yard for the Houston Lateral Project, a component of the Keystone pipeline system in Houston, Texas March 5, 2014.  REUTERS/Rick Wilking

Joe Oliver, Canadian minister of natural resources, speaks at the pipe yard for the Houston Lateral Project, a component of the Keystone pipeline system in Houston, Texas March 5, 2014. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

It’s an old public relations strategy in politics that the best time to announce bad news is late on a Friday. That way, the news hits when most of the public (and much of the media) isn’t paying attention. It takes a couple of days for the bad news to trickle down.

Really bad news should be announced on the Friday before a long weekend.

So what kind of news gets announced on a Good Friday? Good Friday isn’t just the start of a long weekend, it’s one day into a four-day long weekend.

On top of that, Good Friday is the most solemn day in the Christian calendar. Even nominal Christians who never darken a church door the rest of the year somehow make it to service on GF.

So the attempt by the Obama White House to bury deeply its newest delay on the Keystone XL pipeline by announcing it late last Friday – Good Friday --- was not merely tactical, it was cowardly.

The time for diplomatic niceties is over. Let’s call a coward, a coward. And Barack Obama is a coward.

He can’t stand up to Russian President Vladimir Putin as Putin prepares to gobble up the old Eastern European client states of the Soviet empire.

He can’t stand up to the mad mullahs who run Iran and who are intent on building a nuclear arsenal, or to the tin pot little demagogues who run tiny fiefdoms such as Venezuela and North Korea.

And now it's obvious he can’t stand up to the environmentalists in his own Democratic party, particularly a San Francisco billionaire named Tom Steyer.

Steyer is the ultimate one-percenter. He went to an exclusive, private high school. He graduated from Yale, was a hedge fund trader on Wall Street and later founded his own fund, Farallon Capital, which specializes in making money for “high-worth individuals” from movement in the market. So whether the markets are rising or falling, Farallon gains.

And he is the top contributor to political campaigns in the United States, out-giving even the libertarian and conservative Koch brothers.

Yet because he agrees with them (and funds their campaigns), Democrats who otherwise despise one-percenters and the influence money buys in politics, never have an unkind word to say about Steyer.

In effect, Steyer is now using his personal fortune (estimated at north of $1.4 billion US) to hold the White House and the Democrats hostage.

Even though Steyer made some of his personal fortune by investing in Canada’s oilsands and in pipelines, he has now become obsessed with the climate change scare. Stopping oilsands development and the Keystone XL pipeline are the burr under his saddle.

So he is offering the Democrats $100 million -- half from his personal fortune, half from donor contributions -- for this fall’s House and Senate elections, but only if they reject Keystone.

Given that the Democrats are in real danger of losing control of the Senate because they are already unpopular over Obamacare, and given that if they lose control to the Republicans Obama’s agenda for his last two years in office will be impossible to pass, the Democrats seem to have grasped for Steyer’s lifeline.

So on Good Friday the White House, through the State Department, announced it would delay indefinitely any decision on Keystone.

This is not a good economic decision because it will delay (or kill) thousands of well-paying jobs and upwards of $2 billion annually in economic activity in the U.S.

It is not even a good environmental decision. The State Department’s own multiple reports show oilsands oil will get to market with or without Keystone. Instead it will go by rail or truck at a much higher cost in terms of emissions.

All this decision is, is crass, cowardly politics.

lorne.gunter@sunmedia.ca


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