Every Democratic President for the last 40 years has had to face the problem that a significant part of the actual Democratic Party base is, at best, conflicted, on the environment. The UAW and Democratic Senators from Michigan have fought to limit auto emission standards in the name of jobs. Democrats from Ohio have battled to save Ohio's dirty coal industry and the huge power plants that burn that coal. West Virginia's Democratic politicians fight for coal too, as do Colorado's and even Montana's. When the GOP was trying to extort huge cuts in social programs by holding up the 2011 budget continuation and threatening to defund the government, Democratic Senators Debbie Stabenow and Sherrod Brown took advantage of the weak negotiating position of the Administration to propose budget riders that would have "delayed" EPA rules on coal burning for two years. Debbie Stabenow is a reliable liberal and Sherrod Brown is one of the most progressive Senators - the one who is most aligned with labor unions. These people are all absolutely essential parts of any hope Democrats have of holding the White House and the Senate and the President held a hard line against them on that issue and on several others before giving in to their concerns by delaying Ozone standards. However, this well known reality conflicts with the simple story the "progressives" want to tell about how the Obama administration "caves" in to right wing pressure out of pure spinelessness.
For example, here's Grist's David Roberts having an argument with imaginary "political realists"
But Obama's chief of staff bought the stupid logic that squashing it would help in swing states.These unnamed "political realists" are apparently as ignorant as Mr. Roberts. It is amazing how the main stream media habit of "quoting" anonymous sources who actually don't exist has been adopted by progressives. Of course, if the Obama administration was stupid and cowardly enough to believe that delaying regulations would placate its conservative enemies, Mr. Roberts would be correct in his theory that they are stupid and cowardly. If fish could sing the Ode to Joy, then it would be correct that that fish could sing. Circular reasoning is like that.
Political "realists" keep telling us that he's doing these things (complete with concessions to conservative rhetoric on "regulatory uncertainty") to avoid political attacks he can't afford. In reality itself, however, conservative attacks have not diminished one iota, and no amount of compromise or capitulation will change that. Right-wingers are going after other EPA rules just as hard, and their narrative about Obama's "regulatory overreach" has not shifted a bit. There is no attack that would have taken place that won't take place anyway.
But here's the problem: by mindlessly echoing Republican propaganda about why the Obama administration acts, by refusing to do even the slightest bit of research or to even acknowledge the existence of evidence that counters the factesque story that he wants to tell, Mr. Roberts is not making the actual problem go away, he's just making the problem impossible to solve. He is distracting environmentalists from the work that needs to be done to win over unions and Democratic politicians not to mention the public, and at the same time he is helping sell the GOP story that Democrats are weak, cowardly, and unable to defend the nation. Real environmentalists needs to do what Van Jones does and make the importance of green jobs clear to the public. Environmentalists are content to remain apologists for the Republican message machine can just repeat Republican PR over and over.