He’s got a phone and a pen, and … an office door that can stay closed, too. The Hill reports that Barack Obama has begun preparing to veto the bill forcing approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, which may be a delicate task — since so many Democrats actually voted for and favor the project. Obama has spent months bragging about his pen and phone and has issued a number of veto threats publicly since the November elections that gave Republicans full control of Congress. However, this veto won’t include photo ops:
President Obama is just days away from issuing the biggest veto of his tenure, with Republicans poised to send him legislation that would authorize construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.
Obama’s veto — just the third of his presidency and the first since 2010 — is expected to come with little fanfare, with even opponents of the pipeline arguing the White House should avoid further angering Democrats and unions who want Keystone to be built. …
But not all vetoes have been performed so publicly.
When Clinton vetoed the legislation banning partial birth abortions, he did so in a private ceremony in the Oval Office. He met with women who had undergone the procedure on the advice of their doctors because their health was in danger.
Often presidents have vetoed bills simply by issuing a written statement outlining their objections.
That’s the route Obama is likely to take on Keystone, given how deeply the legislation divides his own party.
This provides the first look at what will be a two-year problem for Obama. Without Harry Reid blocking GOP initiatives in the Senate, Obama now has to issue vetoes rather than maintain the pretense of being above the politics of legislating. Vetoes on partisan projects (like the repeal of ObamaCare) will help him look like a steadfast executive, but vetoing legislation that gets significant Democratic support will make him look like the extremist in question — in this case, a tool in the hands of environmentalists.
Unfortunately for Democrats, it also paints them in the same light, especially if they can’t overturn a veto on a bipartisan initiative like Keystone that enjoys so much broad popularity in the electorate. Salena Zito observed over the weekend that the pro-life faction of the Democratic Party has disappeared, and voters have begun to conclude that Democrats have left the center in favor of extremist activists:
Just five years ago, 110 pro-life Democrats were in the House, around a dozen in the U.S. Senate. Today, fewer than five are in the House, and two in the Senate.
Just five years ago, coincidentally, Democrats held majorities in both chambers.
They lost those majorities because they lost touch with their districts.
Yes, gerrymandering played a part. Yet that is far from the whole story, a story no one talks about — or, if they do, they don’t address the problem. The fact is, Democrats are losing or excluding evangelicals, blue-collar types, Jacksonians and moderates, not only from feeling welcome in the party but from filling the Democrat bench to run for or to hold local offices.
That is happening not just in Ohio but all across the country.
Obama can’t hide that behind a closed door. Democrats should be thinking about how to turn that ship around, rather than to keep sailing to the edges of the political world.