Sunday, December 07, 2014

Did GOP's Machiavellian Manuever Cost Senator Mary Landrieu Her Seat?

Meet #54 - Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA)
Today is Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.

Let's not forget that 73 years ago today on December 7, 1941, over 2,403 Americans, including 68 civilians, lost their lives during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor Naval base in Hawaii.

On December 8th, President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared war on Japan signaling America's entrance into World War II in which over 405,399 Americans would loose their lives. 

The November 2014 US Senatorial elections are officially over with the news that incumbent Democratic Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu lost a lengthy runoff election to Republican candidate Bill Cassidy (pictured left).

It's pretty sobering news for American progressives given the overwhelming control Republicans already wield in the House of Representatives.

Case in point: as The reported, in an interview on Fox News Sunday, Cassidy quickly announced one of his top priorities is to roll back the Affordable Care Act, even as he insisted:

“If there’s one party for the working people right now, it’s the Republican Party,” Cassidy said on “Fox News Sunday,” pointing to GOP efforts to expand drilling of natural resources and Democrats’ attempts to limit emissions."

Yup. No doubt what hard working Americans really need right now is Republicans taking away affordable health care for their families. That should really help.

So with the addition of this staunch friend of the working people, 54 is now the magic number for Republicans in the Senate, who now control every Senate seat in the south; Democrats now hold 44 seats and independent candidates control two.

I'm going to respectfully disagree with Washington Post reporter Jordyn Phelps' analysis of the runoff election results that Landrieu's support of the Affordable Care Act and alliance with President Obama led to her defeat.

Her support of the ACA and the president were a factor in her defeat, but progressives, Democrats and independents were overwhelmingly opposed to the Keystone XL pipeline project which Landrieu sponsored.

Top Republican climate change denier (R-OK) Sen. Jim Inhofe
It's costly because the potential for a major environmental disaster was significant.

As a mechanism to deliver more Canadian tar sands oil for export across the globe, the pipeline would only magnify the current global climate crisis that Republican Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe (pictured left), who will serve as the incoming chair of the Senate Committee on Environmental and Public Works, claims does not exist.

Besides, the number of actual full-time jobs Republicans claim it would create is wildly exaggerated.

The bulk of the "42,000 jobs" that supporters of the pipeline were so fond of trumpeting would be seasonal temporary construction jobs that would disappear once the 875-mile pipeline was completed. As's analysis of the jobs claims show, in the end the Keystone XL pipeline would actually create about 35 permanent full time American jobs.

As a result, progressive groups, environmentalists and many Democrats completely abandoned Landrieu during the runoff election season because her support of the doomed pipeline project positioned the three-term Senator as a climate change denier looking to give the oil industry a big fat handout in order to get herself re-elected.

Meanwhile the GOP poured in over $1.3 million in support of her opponent Bill Cassidy and saturated Louisianans with anti-Landrieu TV and radio attack ads.

Besides, as I wrote about in my blog the other week, I agree with environmental activist groups who assert that it's actually far more cost-effective and efficient to transport the heavy, viscous Canadian tar sands oil via rail cars to coastal refineries and terminals along the east coast and southern gulf coast than it is via a pipeline.

So was Landrieu ultimately duped into tying her political future to an ambitious pipeline project that Republicans actually knew would never be approved?

Did Republicans shrewdly use the Keystone XL pipeline as a kind of Trojan Horse wedge issue while quietly using their control of state legislatures and Governor's mansions (like Chris Christie's) across the nation to tweak state and local laws to make it easier to secretly transport larger amounts of Bakken crude and Canadian tar sands oil over railways?

It's pretty Machiavellian but politically clever. If true, the Keystone XL project was always a win-win for Republicans.

In terms of political strategy, Senator Landrieu felt she had to support the pipeline project to appease the Louisiana oil industry to keep her Senate seat.

Environmentalist groups and Democrats devoted huge amounts of money, time and resources into extensive multi-pronged media campaigns to defeat it, when all along, top oil industry and rail executives knew that transporting tar sands oil over rail was really the way to go as reported by Justin Mikulka in an eye-opening article on the DeSmogBlog back in August.

I'm reminded of what Corleone family consigliere Tom Hagan (brilliantly underplayed by actor Robert Duvall) said of Hyman Roth's Machiavellian attempt to secretly frame loyal Corleone capo Frank "Frankie Five Angels" Pentangeli for the botched assassination of Michael Corleone in the brilliant 1974 film, The Godfather II.

As for Senator Mary Landrieu's political defeat, the Republicans "played this one beautifully."


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