Following up on Tina’s recent column on the general sense of malaise surrounding green warriors and their lack of confidence in the current administration, another chapter has been added to the book. A stalwart group of environmental activists, including some briefly incarcerated celebrities, managed to spend more than two weeks of their summer holiday camped out in front of the White House. Braving everything from earthquakes and hurricanes to slaps on the wrist from the capital police and the jeers of the public, they staked out their turf on the sidewalks to make their voices heard.
So how did that work out for them? If you ask some of the organizers, all things considered they probably should have gone to Disneyland instead.
After two weeks of daily sit-ins, more than 1,250 arrests and two administration decisions that infuriated U.S. environmental groups, many of the activists departed Washington emboldened by the success of their demonstrations.
But they were also dispirited with a U.S. president who they increasingly believe is betraying campaign promises to put green issues at the top of his agenda.
“I think we have been able to galvanize the environmental movement in a way that it hasn’t been in a long time,” said Bill McKibben, who organized 14 days of protests against Alberta-based TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline.
“That said, I don’t know whether any of that is strong enough to match the power of the oil industry.”…
“My first response was, ‘How did [Republicans] manage to snatch Obama and put a stunt double in his place?’” Mr. McKibben said.
Were I working with this group I would certainly be confused as well. The President has given initial approval to the Keystone pipeline they are fighting against and backed off on the new ozone standards. At the same time, he clings to a laundry list of other new regulatory, man made disasters which hinder job growth but the majority of which do nothing to “save the environment.”
It’s a bit soon to suspect the GOP of successfully sticking a doppelganger in the Oval Office, but one can sympathize with Ms. Hannah, Mr. McKibben and company over their confusion. Of course, they’re fighting only one front of a larger battle and the possibility exists that Team Obama is looking to score a victory in the larger war. Yes, he’s disappointing his base, but it’s not like they’re going to vote for Rick Perry next November. And no amount of backtracking on regulations is going to win over the conservative faithful, no matter how much they may quietly approve of such actions. But will a demonstration of being willing to compromise win back a few moderates and independents for Obama?
Anything’s possible, I suppose. But if it doesn’t translate into a lot of new jobs – sooner rather than later – the conversation may be moot.