On Tuesday night’s PBS NewsHour, a panel of journalists were exploring how Democratic candidates for the Senate were going to struggle with Obama’s new crackdown on coal plants. PBS anchor Gwen Ifill even said, “why then does the White House rub salt into the wound on this issue? Why make it so hard for Democrats especially?”
Washington Post reporter Reid Wilson replied that Obama wants it for his legacy as his term winds down, and reminded Ifill that he said his time would be when the planet starts to heal: [See video below.]
REID WILSON: I think it’s in large part because President Obama hears the clock ticking. He doesn’t have that long left in office. He’s only got two-and-a-half years until his successor takes over. If he doesn’t put in this rule now, if he doesn’t start the implementation process, the rule won’t be finalized by the time he leaves office.
If a Republican president is the next one in, they can scrap this rule before it has taken effect. Remember, President Obama’s 2008 acceptance speech at the Democratic Convention, he said, this would be the time when the planet starts to heal. This is the most aggressive step that any president has taken on climate change so far, but it’s a step that clearly puts his party and very vulnerable members seeking reelection at odds with some voters who are going to determine the outcome of the U.S. Senate.
Susan Page of USA Today even said Obama would pick his eco-legacy over his fellow Democrats:
IFILL: And yet the words climate change didn’t show up much in this announcement. It was all about health and children’s asthma concerns and it was — and jobs.
SUSAN PAGE: Because those are the — those are the words that poll better. Those are the words that appeal to a broader range of voters. When you talk about climate change, it’s an issue that appeals very much to some voters, but really turns some voters off. And that’s why you heard him talk about other aspects of this program, not calling it climate change. But I certainly agree with Reid.
The president is thinking about his legacy. Could his legacy be dealing with an issue that he talked about so much in the 2008 campaign, like climate change, or could it be holding the Democratic Senate? You give him that choice, I think he would take climate change every day.