While I agree with Joan Walsh Salon’s editor at large that Mary Landrieu’s (D-LA) push for an immediate Keystone pipeline vote is a political ploy destined to hurt rather than help her attempt to win reelection in next months runoff against Republican Bill Cassidy, her implication that the move is designed to help the Democrat win White, Obama hating voters a weak attempt at using fake racism as an excuse for a story.

It may be that Reid is telling liberal Democrats and the White House that they’re going to have to step up and block legislation they don’t like, after that sad pre-election New York Times story that featured party sources trashing Reid for “obstruction” and suggesting the president might get more done with McConnell in charge. Red state Democrats are also publicly trashing Reid now, insisting his refusal to take up controversial legislation on which conservative Democrats might have joined the GOP helped cost some of them their seats last week. White House aides say President Obama will veto the bill, on the grounds that the State Department and the courts are still reviewing it. 

But this gambit is unlikely to help Landrieu. The pipeline doesn’t even come through Louisiana – it stops at Texas. The jobs it creates are mostly temporary; an otherwise favorable State Department report found the pipeline would ultimately create 35 permanent fulltime jobs. Even worse politically, the House legislation is sponsored by her opponent, Bill Cassidy, which should offset any potential political bump for Landrieu there. Her tiny chance of winning the runoff relies on motivating and turning out Democrats, and there’s no evidence pushing a Keystone vote will do that.

Walsh is basically correct when she speaks of the political result (or lack of) stemming from the Landrieu’s Keystone gambit. However the number of permanent jobs is more likely twice what she estimates. She is however ignoring the total shot in the arm to the economy that Keystone will generate. Over the course of up to two years of construction, the State Department estimates a total of 42,100 jobs “would be supported by construction of the proposed project.” Some jobs are directly tied to the pipeline and construction. Walsh however, ignores a potential ripple of $8 billion from the existing, new, and temporary jobs out into the economy.

Walsh moves to the race argument:

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What Keystone does is let Landrieu poke a sharp stick in the eye of Obama, much hated by her white constituents. Any points Landrieu got for politely pointing to the role of race in Obama-hate are swept away by this craven move.

Like most progressives Ms. Walsh believes that liberal policy came down from Mt. Sinai with the Ten Commandments and cannot believe that any rational person could disagree with this president unless they hated the pigmentation of his skin. A cheap, lazy argument especially for someone with Walsh’s credentials. But the Salon editor and many of her fellow progressives regularly cheapens the charge of racism as it lessens the impact of genuine acts of hatred.

In her White-Obama-hating Racist argument, Walsh is using the same tactics she railed against when Chuck Hagel was going through his confirmation as Defense Secretary when she complained that people who are anti-Israel are immediately labeled as anti-Semites.

Nominating Chuck Hagel is in the same category. It sends an important message to once-invincible neocon forces of reaction: You can’t immolate folks with charges that questioning Israel equals anti-Semitism anymore. 

The only real difference between the two is the critics of Hagel presented evidence, speeches, actions, etc. Ms Walsh only labels her political opponents as racist, no evidence needed.

As Big Daddy says in the Tennessee Williams classic, “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”:

There ain’t nothin’ more powerful than the odor of mendacity!