Port: Will Biden wag the dog in Minnesota?
Afghanistan is a disaster, and President Joe Biden needs a distraction. Could the Line 3 pipeline in Minnesota be it?
MINOT, N.D. — The Biden administration's withdrawal from Afghanistan has been an utter calamity.
The American public has watched desperate Afghans fall from our departing airplanes . We see an al-Qaeda kingpin traveling out in the open, with a Taliban escort, for the first time in a decade . We see courageous women bravely protesting the incoming fundamentalist regime. We have video of the Taliban kicking the tires on American helicopters left behind in a rush to get out of the country.
The horrendously bolloxed operation — which has left thousands of Americans and American allies behind for the Taliban to persecute and murder, a situation the Washington Post is calling a "moral disaster" — is so bad it's inviting not just furious criticism from Republicans but dissent from the Democratic ranks as well .
The last American flights have left Kabul, the administration's approval numbers have dipped underwater for the first time since taking office, and President Joe Biden needs to change the subject.
Perhaps a contentious political battle over a pipeline is just the ticket?
Yesterday a contingent of 63 Democratic political leaders in Minnesota, led by extremist Rep. Ilhan Omar , sent a letter to Biden urging him to intervene in Enbridge's nearly-completed Line 3 replacement project. "When considering the extent of environmental, cultural, and social impacts on Indigenous people associated with Line 3 construction and its long-term climate impacts, we believe the federal government has a responsibility to uphold treaties and engage with Tribal nations on a government-to-government level," they wrote in their August 30 missive.
This pipeline has already been through a tortuously thorough, years-long regulatory examination by state and federal officials. That process has been subjected to years of judicial branch scrutiny as well.
To any reasonable person, it's clear that the pipeline replacement has been pursued following all applicable laws.
The political zealots who travel the country fighting energy infrastructure with lawsuits and violence aren't reasonable people.
Would Biden heed this letter and intervene?
His office would only need a thin pretext to do so. It wouldn't even have to hold up in court. All it would need to do is provide an excuse for more delays.
If the move was big enough and showy enough, it could move the news cycle from Afghanistan. It would also throw a bone to the progressive wing of Biden's base, a group of people who have been feeling stymied of late .
It wouldn't be the first time a President has sought to create news to manipulate the political cycle. Bill Clinton infamously launched missiles the same day Monica Lewinsky was testifying before a grand jury .
Ironically, that President was trying to move the nation's attention to Afghanistan, not away from it. It was a different time.
Will Biden choose to wag the dog in Minnesota?
It would be a travesty if he did, but he has an invitation to do so from a noisy and difficult faction of his party, and given the way things are going for him right now, that has to look inviting.
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Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org .