Five years before he was elected president, John F. Kennedy wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Profiles in Courage,” which described acts of political courage performed by eight American politicians. The criteria Kennedy used to define a “politically courageous act” was one that was both moral and principled, but in opposition to his political party, his constituency, and/or both.
Should anyone ever write a sequel to “Profiles in Courage,” I can think of several candidates. Our current president isn’t one of them. He’s turned the shirking of responsibility into an art form, while hypocritically berating anyone else who does the same. His announcement to delay a decision on TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline project is but the latest in a long list of examples.
The 1,700-mile pipeline stretching from the Canadian oil fields to our Gulf Coast refineries would have reduced the United States’ dependence on oil from the OPEC countries.
Howard Hirs, a professor at the University of Houston, said, “It is a national security issue. Having a secure resource such as the pipeline is going … to help us.” Having a secure resource has become even more critical since OPEC announced that Rostam Ghasemi is its new president. Ghasemi is a former Iranian Revolutionary Guard commander and the subject of U.S., European and Australian sanctions.
The president has always been reluctant to extract oil from within our own borders. The next best thing would have been to purchase it from a friendly neighbor. The problem lies within the president’s own support base. On one side, the labor unions favor the project, because it would reportedly create up to 13,000 new jobs, during an otherwise lackluster economy. On the other hand, the environmentalists are against the project, mainly because its subject matter is hydrocarbons — a dirty word for them.
No matter what President Obama’s decision, he would have alienated one major component of his base. It could have been a perfect “profiles in courage” moment. He chose instead to play the role of Shakespeare’s indecisive Hamlet. He avoided a decision altogether until after the 2012 elections. The only thing transparent about this “non-decision” was its dishonesty.
What’s worse is the fact that business can’t wait — especially for an entire year. A decision delayed may mean an opportunity lost. TransCanada may now seek other customers for its oil, notably China and India. As two of the fastest growing world economies, this would put us at a serious disadvantage.
Whether sitting uncomplaining in a pew with his wife and children while the Rev. Jeremiah Wright spewed his hate, or voting “present” time after time in the Illinois Senate, President Obama has seldom demonstrated the political and moral courage we demand of our leaders.
Just four months ago, he said of Congress, “I don’t think the American people sent us here to avoid tough problems. That’s, in fact, what drives them nuts about Washington, when both parties simply take the path of least resistance. And I don’t want to do that here.”
Doesn’t this guy ever listen to himself?
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