Sen. Mary Landrieu has a tough runoff election next month, and energy policy is a big deal in Louisiana. So Senate Democrats are planning to help her out a bit by holding a vote on the Keystone XL pipeline. Paul Waldman calls this one right:
The current Democratic effort to help Mary Landrieu win her runoff election by scheduling a quick vote on the Keystone XL pipeline has to be one of the most politically idiotic moves in recent history. As I argued yesterday, not only is it guaranteed to fail in its goal of helping Landrieu, it gives Republicans a huge policy victory while getting nothing in return. Runoff elections have extremely low turnout, and the only way Landrieu stands a chance is if she can convince lots of Louisiana Democrats to go to the polls to save her. This kind of me-too policymaking—I’m just as pro-oil as Republicans are!—is about the last thing that’ll pump up Democratic enthusiasm.
Keystone XL isn’t really one of my hot buttons. I figure that all that oil is getting to market one way or another, and blocking the pipeline won’t really make much difference. I know that’s probably a little too fatalistic, but we all have issues that strike us that way. Keystone XL is one of mine.
That said, Waldman is right. There’s simply zero chance that this is going to help Landrieu. There’s not a person in Louisiana who doesn’t know that she supports the oil industry and hates hates hates President Obama’s energy policy. She’s made that crystal clear, and everyone who’s persuadable has already been persuaded. A Keystone XL vote just won’t move the needle.
So Democrats would be giving something away and getting literally nothing in return. In fact, since this would outrage all the people who do care about Keystone XL, Democrats would probably be giving something away and losing support from key supporters at the same time. It’s crazy.
These are the same guys who whine endlessly about President Obama’s lousy negotiating skills. Someone just shoot me.