Clinton not ready to answer Hard Questions™ on Keystone Pipeline

Hillary “Hard Questions” Clinton recently released a decidedly non-comprehensive plan to tackle climate change, with promises of more proposals and positions to be unveiled as the campaign season progresses. However, one position we apparently can’t expect candidate Clinton to ever take is where she stands on the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline, the transcontinental oil pipeline that would transport tar sands oil from Canada through the United States.

Responding to a question at a town hall earlier today, Clinton punted on where she stood on the issue, initially saying only that she didn’t want to second guess President Obama or interfere with the administration’s work on the pipeline proposal. Pressed for a followup, Clinton said, “If it’s undecided when I become president, I will answer your question.”

Later, she told reporters that “I’m sorry if people want me to. I have been very clear: I will not express an opinion until they have made a decision, and then I will do so.”

Good to know.

The town hall was Clinton’s first since climate advocates disrupted an event two weeks ago, frustrated over Clinton’s refusal to commit to banning fossil fuel extraction on federal lands. Taken together with her refusal to take a position on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, it appears as though Hillary Clinton’s stance on all climate related issues is that the environment is good, but answering Hard Questions™ about the environment is bad. And unless one of her primary opponents gains some serious ground on her, she doesn’t have any electoral imperative to say anything else.

Hillary Clinton, via Roger H. Goun / Flickr

Hillary Clinton, via Roger H. Goun / Flickr

Clinton, who as Secretary of State helped start the reviewing process for the pipeline, has been notably cagey on many of the hard questions that she herself has insisted require answers — after the campaign is over, of course. As The New Republic‘s Rebecca Leber pointed out yesterday, Clinton’s climate agenda includes an ambitious investment in renewable energy seemingly tailor-made to satisfy the criteria of billionaire Tom Steyer’s goal of getting America to 50 percent renewable energy by 2030…and no further. She has also called for what her campaign calls “safe and responsible” fossil fuel production, which climate advocates (rightly) counter is oxymoronic on its face.

All of this suggests that Clinton is ready to work around the margins to establish a climate record that she can point to, but is not willing to lay out an agenda that would lead to adaptation away from our reliance on fossil fuels — a reliance that has likely already guaranteed the loss of much of our coastline and the cities that sit on it.

It further suggests that her pattern of asking and outlining hard questions, only to refuse to answer them, wouldn’t end with a Clinton victory. It would extend into her presidency.

Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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25 Responses to “Clinton not ready to answer Hard Questions™ on Keystone Pipeline”

  1. 1nancy2 says:

    S. They never learn and they alwasy lose: Note 2010 2014. Fools, chasing their tails and going no where. No wonder their base, us, roll over and get more zzzzz’s.

  2. Skye Winspur says:

    “she will lose.” Exactly right, if she keeps this up. Voters tend to prefer the original (vague right-wing nationalist noises) to the copy (vague centrist grandma-patriotism noises), a lesson that nobody in her circle seems to have learned.

  3. 2karmanot says:

    That works

  4. 2karmanot says:

    Well done. You covered it from A**hole to Zealot. Sigh………………….

  5. Bill_Perdue says:

    The voters who aren’t fooled are those who vote left of don’t vote and those numbers are increasing.

    Democrats are not part of the left.

  6. 1nancy2 says:

    Yeah, doesn’t it, h? We are scr*wed and not in the nice way either. Hill is unlikeable, whereas Bill was terrific; I could listen to him for hours and felt sad when he finished talking. Her? Can’t listen for 30 sec’s, max. Arghhhhh! If she chooses Elizabeth, then maybe I would be a tad interested, but not really. She’s ho hum; same ol’ same ol’. When are we going to catch a break?

  7. hidflect says:

    Yeah, that about covers it.

  8. 1nancy2 says:

    I’m a Dem. and my friends and I detest her; don’t want her and..she will lose. She’s boring, monotone, unwatchable, controlled, no spontaneity/or personality; brilliant; yes, but live where there are wide swaths of dummies, so smart does not compute; Look at W. could not speak, write, spell, think, write and there he was, our Dear Leader, along w/ his boss, Cheney for 8 long, miserable years. Jeb is hideous, see above et all and leave out ‘brilliant’. I detest him too. We all will vote for Bernie in the Primary, then get saddled w/ Hill and Jeb. Outrageous and disgusting.

  9. nicho says:

    Actually, many of the voters aren’t fooled. They know the person they’re voting for is fatally flawed, but they are choosing what they see as the “lesser of two evils.” They’re told they have to do that. But they know they are voting for “evil.” It’s the only choice they’re allowed to have. Right wingers will vote for Whoever to stop Hillary from getting in and voters on the left will vote for Hillary to keep Whoever from getting in. Principles have nothing to do with it.

  10. hidflect says:

    She so boxed in by the backroom signed and sealed promises she’s sold on each and every juicy policy position to whomever was the highest bidder, all she’s left with to talk on are the positions no one cared to buy; some apathetic mumbling about a fair wage, women’s pay equality and gay marriage (which is already done. So that’s a non starter.) Tobin tax, Madame Moneybags? No comment. Better enforcing of financial regulation? No comment. TPP? No comment. On and on. If she wins, American voters deserve all the oligarchy they will get.

  11. Bill_Perdue says:

    Lets be honest about the lessons of history.

    Democrat candidates are part of the party of war, racism and union busting just like their Republican counterparts. You can vote for them and not be a racist, a warmonger and a tool of the rich, but you can’t be a part of those parties and not be part of the system of war, racsim and poverty for working people.

    If BS had any principles he wouldn’t be running as a Democrat, he wouldn’t be a supporter of zionist colonialism, he wouldn’t be a tools of the Military Industrial Complex and he wouldn’t be a tawdry huckster of the F35. But he is all of those things and he’ll sell us out as fast as Obama did.

    I know that people are desperate for a way out of the Clinton/Obama/Bush era of increasing racism, decreasing standards of living and waking up to the fact that we live in a fully formed police state. But the way out is not through the Republican or Democrat parties. They’re not instrumentalities of reform and they can’t be reformed internally. They’re owned by the filthy rich.

    (The F35 is a remarkable boondoggle of an aircraft that has the distinction of catching fire while sitting on the runway, and all for the amazingly low price of $102,000,000.00 per plane. BS peddles F35’s the same way a used car salescreature peddles lemons.)

  12. salsolomon says:

    Bill Perdue, to most, Bernie indeed seems to be a man of principles. And, for everybody’s sake, I hope that you are wrong and I am correct.

  13. Rhonda Chavez says:

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  14. Bill_Perdue says:

    I don’t have a clue who’ll fool the most voters, all I can say for sure is that it matters little.

  15. The_Fixer says:

    Sounds good to me. Succinctly stated and exactly right.

  16. nicho says:

    BS won’t be elected. You can take that to the bank. If anyone gets too close to derailing the Clinton, Inc. juggernaut, they’ll wake up some morning with a bust of Vince Foster in their bed.

  17. Indigo says:

    Thank you.

  18. nicho says:

    I thought you were remarkably restrained.

  19. nicho says:

    Why would anyone vote for this poseur?

    Clinton . . . has been notably cagey

    And therein lies the problem. She’s asking us to buy a pig in a poke. It’s going to come down to the Hillbots shrieking that the GOP candidate is worse and so we have to hold our noses and vote for this retread fraud. Sorry. Can’t do that again.

  20. Indigo says:

    Maybe I should have found a more genteel way to give my opinion.

  21. Indigo says:

    Her advisory committee (and let’s not forget that Nancy Reagan had an astrologer do that work for Ronnie) hasn’t devised “opinion” on those questions yet. I’d say the first step is to get past the absolutely ridiculous notions that “opinion” is all this is about. This is about polluting productive farm land with oil that will make the ocean coastal spills look manageable because once polluted, those fields will be sour for a century. That’s serious matter, a serious response and program are essential. An “opinion” is something we tell her that that hair style makes her look Hollywood. That’s an opinion, mere trivia. Polluting farm land is not a trivial matter.

    So there’s that.

    And then there’s the loss of coastal property that’s going to be happening within the coming decade. Does she recommend building stilt houses and ferrying ourselves around in gandolas? Again, there’s no room for an “opinion” here. This is serious matter. So sober up, Hillary, or go hid out in the Smokey Mountans and find solace with your grandchild, spending more time with your family, as the expression goes.

    In short, s**t or get off the pot.

  22. Houndentenor says:

    *puts on flame retardant suit*

    This is exactly the kind of behavior that makes HRC such an unattractive candidate. It’s as if she can’t be bothered to answer her question. it’s the very crap that I don’t tolerate from Republicans. Why should I accept it from a Democrat? No politician is above answer questions especially about policy matters. The tone makes her sound like she’s above having to answer to the riff-raff that constitutes the electorate and we should just accept her rightful place in the oval office. Well, no. I need her to convince me that her agenda as president is one that I agree with. I see no reason to assume that of her just as I wouldn’t assume it of anyone else.

  23. Bill_Perdue says:

    If BS is elected we’ll get burned the same way we did when Obama got elected.

  24. JVCS says:


  25. Bill_Perdue says:

    That mirrors her approach on TPP, another environment destroyer and the approach of the
    Democrat/Dixiecrats and their shills as a whole when it comes to the environment.

    ” While Hillary Clinton has demurred over her position on the
    controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, her campaign has partnered
    with a pro-TPP law and lobby firm to raise money. … Clinton’s campaign held a
    fundraiser in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday with the political action committee
    of a law firm called McGuireWoods. Lobby registration documents reveal that a
    subsidiary of the group lobbies on behalf of Smithfield Foods, the world’s
    largest producer of pork, to pass both the TPP and “fast track”—a special
    presidential mandate that nearly eliminates Congress’ role in crafting trade
    legislation. Despite mounting pressure to take a position, Clinton has only
    provided non-commital answers regarding her stance on both TPP and TPA.

    Not as honestly reactionary as their Republican sisters and brothers most Democrats hem and haw and then take steps to destroy the environment, just as Obama did with fracking and offshore drilling.

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