Yes, Bennet’s Keystone XL Triangulation Is Stupid

Sen. Michael Bennet

Sen. Michael Bennet

This week, President Barack Obama vetoed a bill passed by the GOP-controlled House and Senate to expedite construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. This legislation would have short-circuited an ongoing State Department review of the project, and trumped court proceedings in the state of Nebraska over the legality of eminent domain takings to build the route. Obama had repeatedly threatened to veto the bill, and the administration has become increasingly ambivalent about the Keystone XL project overall as global oil prices have plummeted, domestic oil production has surged, and grassroots opponents have waged a highly effective publicity campaign.

As we've discussed in this space many times, the case to build Keystone XL, even years ago when these intervening pressures weren't yet a factor, has been consistently overhyped by its proponents. Last year, Cory Gardner insisted on the campaign trail that Keystone would result in "thousands of Colorado jobs," a number that was inflated somewhere in the neighborhood of 100%. The truth is, Keystone XL won't enter the state of Colorado, won't produce a significant number of jobs in our state, won't produce more than a few dozen permanent jobs anywhere once the pipeline is built, and will result in an increase in local gas prices due to the routing of Canadian oil supplies to Gulf Coast export terminals. Even ardently pro-oil Gov. John Hickenlooper agrees with Obama's decision to veto the bill.

With these facts once again established for the record, 9NEWS' Brandon Rittiman reports:

They come from different political parties, but Colorado's US Senators both voted for legislation to authorize building of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Sens. Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner both also confirm to 9NEWS they will vote for a veto override, which is being planned by majority leader Mitch McConnell.

That Sen. Michael Bennet planned to vote for the Keystone XL pipeline was never in question. He's voted for it before, including late last year during ex-Sen. Mary Landrieu's desperate attempt to get Keystone XL passed during her runoff election campaign. Bennet says he thinks Keystone should be "part of a bigger solution" to climate change, a statement that we'll admit makes very little sense to us.

But voting to override the President's veto makes even less sense. Politically, this doesn't win Bennet any supporters who would actually support him against a viable Republican. But worse, Bennet's unapologetic thumbing of his nose at Keystone XL opponents further drives an emerging wedge within the Democratic coalition in Colorado. Even if he got a green light from the White House to vote this way since the override has no real chance of succeeding, this is insult added to injury for Bennet's Democratic base–and has no political upside that we can see.

Though assailed by the GOP as a monolithic party of anti-energy environmentalists, the uneasy truce among Colorado Democrats over support for the oil and gas industry is in fact extremely fragile. Too many Democrats at high levels have convinced themselves that they can openly triangulate on the issue, and keep the Democratic coalition that has mostly dominated elections in this state since 2004 together.

Our response, delivered with increasing urgency: there's a limit.

37 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Progressicat says:

    Why is voting to override the veto somehow worse than voting for the pipeline up front?  The Senate won't override, if he survives the primary, his R challenger won't be able to "he was for it before he was against it" him.  He's done what damage on the left that he will with his initial vote– I don't see a lot more Dems being pissed, "Damn, son, the vote is one thing, but the override…"

    That math, plus a little genuine feeling that the pipeline should be approved, doesn't seem to come out wrong.

    • bullshit! says:

      It pisses me off, for one. Here mud in yer eye, loyal Dems. Wins zero votes.

      Bennet must be counting on a hell of a Hillary landslide, and I hope he's right.

    • BlueCat says:

      Of course it's worse. Voting for something you know isn't going to pass or that will be vetoed is a time honored practice, often done for political purposes and tolerated because it does no real harm and may help a fellow party member keep a seat in the party. Voting to over-ride your own party's president's veto is beyond the pale. And, as pointed out, it appeals to zero potential voters. Any voters this might appeal to are voting for whatever name comes with an R.  

      I've been willing to tolerate a lot from Bennet because there are many issues on which he's much to be preferred over any R but this is too much. He may as well just go to work in the oil and gas industry right now. Obviously that's the only answer to the question, who is he going for, here? 

      The enthusiasm level among the usual suspect Dem volunteers is going to be less than zero. He only got to be a Senator in the first place because team Obama liked him and kept the seat because he got lucky with a gaffe prone moron for an opponent in the general.  He has virtually no personal fan base among Colorado voters. What a prick. 

      • Progressicat says:

        I don't see it that way.  He's running in the same year Dems will likely be fielding the first real contender for a female president.  Turnout is likely to be strong.  Plenty of Dems who would vote for Hillary are pro oil and gas, as I believe she is.   He's been consistent, and some fence Us may like that.  I doubt it mattered much either way, but I can see why he'd take the road he did.

        • BlueCat says:

          Colorado has often been the exception to the rule. We've seen it when Ds have done well here in R years. If I were Bennet I wouldn't just assume that no effort is required to sail through in 2016. I'm not saying this makes him unelectable. Just that a whole lot of grass roots Dems, when prioritizing their time, energy and money, won't be sending much his way. I certainly won't. So it might not be a cake walk even in a presidential year. Helping the right over-ride a Dem President's veto, whether the over-ride succeeds or not, is not going to endear him to Dem grass roots activists or win him a single R leaner. I'm also not as confident in a triumphant HRC candidacy as many seem to be. She has quite a few huge flaws for Republicans to bring out after she sails through to nomination. 

          • Conserv. Head Banger says:

            I think Progressicat makes a lot of sense. People should not assume that every Colorado Dem out there is an anti-fracking, anti-industry, zealot. While I am a conservative, and will vote Republican if there is a good candidate (which Gardner wasn't, IMHO), I see a lot to admire in Bennet. He's right on personal freedom and womens' reproductive issues; and he's right on protection of our public lands & outdoor recreation economy; to name just a few other issues.

            Bluecat says:  "Just that a whole lot of grassroots Dems………won't be sending much his way. I know I won't."   So, that means you'd rather see a Mike Coffman get elected Senator?       C.H.B.

            • BlueCat says:

              It means I have limited resources and they'll go elsewhere. At this point, in the absence of actually taking the Senate back, one more R won't make much difference.  And it's not about fracking. It's about this particular pipeline. Let him vote any way he wants to on the bill. Honestly, I have many priorities before fracking, pipe line, etc.  I also can't work up much hysteria about GMOs. It's the rubbing our noses in it by going so far as to vote to over-ride our Dem President's veto. That's the kind of thing you'd only expect from the most far right southern conservadem.

              The whole point of wanting a Dem majority, or at least enough to either prevent Senate passage or prevent a veto over-ride, is moot if the Dem you vote for is no good for those purposes. Of course if we're going like gangbusters in 2016 with a good chance of taking back the Senate, I'll write a small check to the SOB and he will, of course, be included in the distribution of GOTV lit, something I always volunteer for. Happy?

      • Voyageur says:

        I'm a personal fan who spent many hours calling voters for Bennet last time.  I intend to do so again.   As a guy who feels Keystone is far preferable to thousands of railroad cars running about with crude oil threatening to overturn — the present situation — I agree with his stand on Keystone.   True, I have supported the veto, but only as "trading stock."   I'll urge signing it when the Rs. put something on the table, preferable an 18-cent, 6 cents a year for three years, gas tax increase for infrastructure.  Do that very good things, Rs, and you have have your minor good thing, the Keystone XL.

        • BlueCat says:

          Sorry. Regardless of how anyone feels about the pipeline (and I care much more about  a dozen or so issues than I do about that, especially since we already have pipelines all over the place. It seems more symbolic than anything else to make such a fuss over this particular one.) I see no good enough reason for or value in Bennet's going so far as to vote to over-ride his own Dem President's veto.  

          And you aren't the typical grass roots Dem volunteer.  If you don't think this will further dampen the worker bees enthusiasm, I think you're mistaken. He'll either be carried back into office on the presidential year wave (most likely) or not but he won't be winning a close one on backs of wildly enthusiastic grass roots volunteers working their asses off for him.

          BTW, it's not that I think Dave's Republican mom is evil. I'm just puzzled  as to why his hatred for not progressive enough for his tastes Dems is so strong while asking us to approve whole heartedly of his mom, a Republican pol who must be involved in helping to support and raise funds for the Republican national orgs whose function is to put more Republican asses in seats nation wide and in the WH. Seems like if he wants us to join him in despising his idea of Republican-lite Dems, he's got a lot of nerve asking us to also send checks to a real Republican supporting Republican, even a nice one. 

    • BC pretty much nails it. It is a long-standing practice to vote for something like KXL if you think it will win you points with independents or even a few crossovers from the other party while the bill still dies on the vine legislatively.

      Voting to override a Presidential veto – especially from your own party – is, traditionally, a more serious vote. It signals intense belief in an issue, not just a throw-away vote. IMHO voting to override the veto will send a signal to some Democratic activists. It is, believe it or not, harder to win an election if people won't come out and boost you. We aren't such a blue state that Bennet can afford to rely on independents and Republicans; he needs his base, as a growing number of party operatives are beginning to realize.

    • JeffcoDemo says:

      "if he survives the primary"?  Do think any pol with enough support to win a state wide election is going to go against the money man, go against the Gov's boy, hell, even the President strongly supports him, XL or no XL.  I don't think a pol rises that far in their party making all or nothing bets like that.

      • BlueCat says:

        Thing is, Bennet is not so much a pol as a money guy. He was initially appointed Senator never having been elected to anything prior. I wouldn't over-estimate his political acumen. 

        • JeffcoDemo says:

          I was referring to anybody foolish enough to primary him.  We all know he went to the right schools, had enough connections, and came from the right family in order to skip all that work your way up through local elections stuff other's have to bother with.

          I so regret backing him now, even held a fundraiser for him at my house.  I caught Andrew on a bad night and he soured my thoughts about him.  So wish I had a do over on this one.

          • BlueCat says:

            You're right about the primary thing but don't fret about your past support. I supported him then and it was the right thing to do. Romanoff was a non-starter then just he like he proved himself to be again in 2014 and there isn't a scrap of evidence that he'd  have voted any differently than Bennet if he'd been elected which he probably wouldn't have been. You didn't catch Andrew on a bad day. He is what he is , a DLC centrist and a clueless campaigner. Bennet was our best shot then and he's what we'll get in 2016. I'm practical but that doesn't mean I have to be happy about it. 

            • Voyageur says:

              You got that right, BC. d Andrew was definitely a centrist, DLC type new Democrat in his time as speaker etc.  That's why I liked him so much, actually, since I'm pretty much of the same persuasion, albeit I was still a moderate Republican when Andrew was speaker.  But I just couldn't buy the notion that he was suddenly the uber liberal and Bennet somehow was to the right of him.   I actually started supporting Andrew in that primary but after seeing them debate, etc., just felt that Bennet had much the better chance to win in November.  I think Andrew was a wonderful legislator.   But gotta say he sucks at campaigning.   I think he should have spent less time at the Kennedy School and more time working with the old Mike Pomponio machine in Denver.  Or in Pueblo.   To me, the term "Pueblo Democrat" is like "Sterling Silver" — the real thing, baby!

            • Voyageur says:

              You got that right, BC. d Andrew was definitely a centrist, DLC type new Democrat in his time as speaker etc.  That's why I liked him so much, actually, since I'm pretty much of the same persuasion, albeit I was still a moderate Republican when Andrew was speaker.  But I just couldn't buy the notion that he was suddenly the uber liberal and Bennet somehow was to the right of him.   I actually started supporting Andrew in that primary but after seeing them debate, etc., just felt that Bennet had much the better chance to win in November.  I think Andrew was a wonderful legislator.   But gotta say he sucks at campaigning.   I think he should have spent less time at the Kennedy School and more time working with the old Mike Pomponio machine in Denver.  Or in Pueblo.   To me, the term "Pueblo Democrat" is like "Sterling Silver" — the real thing, baby!wink

  2. debbielynnepaint says:

    Three words:  Follow the Money

  3. mamajama55 says:

    Since Bennet isn’t stupid, and he is, above all, a deal maker, there must be a hellacious deal in the works.
    A lobbying job? Institute consultancy? Does he even plan to run in 2016?

  4. Gilpin Guy says:

    I haven't read anything about his public comments regarding his votes.  Does anyone know if he has tried to explain his position on Keystone?

  5. Zappatero says:

    Once a Blue Dog, always a Blue Dog? Who is advising this guy?

    • Conserv. Head Banger says:

      "Who's advising this guy?"  Probably operatives who are far more intelligent than those who advised the Udall campaign last year. 

      • Charlie3637 says:

        Unfortunately, his operatives are the same that advised Udall. Having seen what happened to that advice, the operatives are desperately trying to find a winning path in 2016. Not off to a good start but no surprises there….Keystone is an emotional hot button issue and you can't predict the winds very well when emotions are involved.

        • Diogenesdemar says:

          True that. The impact of any Keystone vote on 2016 electability will depend on one thing, and one thing only — the price of a gallon of gasoline in October of 2016, and whether that price is rising or falling.  (Hey, It's not like the world economy, war, political instability, terrorism or anything else will be consequential to the price of oil, right?)

          If the price then is generally perceived as reasonable, Keystone is a meh. If Israel bombs Iran and gas prices are soaring, then . . . 

  6. DavidThi808 says:

    Gee, I remember years ago when I first became unhappy with Bennet because he so clearly will do whatever his major funders want. And I was called every dirty name in the book including that I was clearly a Republican.

    And now… you're all repeating what I said earlier.

    • Gilpin Guy says:

      How I well I remember you shilling for the loser Romanoff but you did highlight what a money man Bennet is.  I keep thinking "Who is his constituency?"  Most mysterious on this issue.

    • Voyageur says:

      But David, you are no damn good!   And while you may not be a Republican yourself, your Mom is!  Like being Jewish, political DNA runs through the mother.smiley  Yes, I like Bennet.  I liked Andrew too but his dumbass unilateral disarmament pledge not to take PAC money made me pretty sure he would lose the election.   He wouldn't even take Union money.   When did the Unions become the bad guys for Democrats?  Bennet is a good man and a good Senator.   I also like Elizabeth Warren.   Like Mao, I say "Let a thousand flowers bloom, let a thousand schools of thought contend.   And Fuck the Tea Party!"   

    • Gilpin Guy says:

      Wasn't that the Wade and Beej period and Ralphie at his best.  I think was a wild man for Hillary.  Hah.  Who knows.  Maybe like clocks Dave and Wade are right once in a while.  I don't regret voting for Bennet to beat the odious Buck but he is a far cry from Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren in advocating for progressive causes.  His real betrayal in this matter is those future inhabitants that will be affected by climate change but don't get a chance fo vote for him.  The are few viable options left to avoid cataclysmic weather changes and voting for Keystone isn't one of them.

  7. Moderatus says:

    LOVING THIS. Bring on 2016!

  8. MADCO says:


    If we wanted a Senator who would vote for this, we should have elected Buck!  Well- we can do that next time.

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