I know this is hardly an original observation, but President Obama really is one very cool customer.
The administration's ability to steadily advance its low carbon agenda while facing conflicting pressures from Republicans (and some Democrats) angry at the proposed US climate bill, and diplomats in Copenhagen demanding the US shows more ambition, has been little short of a master class in political positioning. There is a long way still to go before he can declare victory, but you get the impression Obama will see some form of climate legislation passed early next year - and what is more, his opponents will not be quite sure how he did it.
The influential political blogger Andrew Sullivan has repeatedly observed how throughout both his campaign and his first 12 months in the White House, President Obama has outmanoeuvred rivals through almost preternatural displays of calmness and detachment.
Echoing Muhammad Ali's famous rope-a-dope strategy, Obama has let opponents expose their own position, unleash wave after wave of ill-conceived attacks, and reveal their strength and weaknesses, while all the time he quietly and coolly weighs up his options. Then, just when his rivals think they are heading towards victory, he has acted with swiftness and no little ruthlessness to land his own decisive blows and end up with exactly what he wanted.
He did it with the Clintons, he did it with McCain and Palin, he did it with the health care reforms, he is trying to do it with Afghanistan, and now he is pulling off the exact same trick with climate change and cap-and-trade bill.
For several months the White House has appeared rather detached from the debate surrounding the Boxer-Kerry climate bill. Obama made it plain that he supported the bill and wanted a cap-and-trade scheme that would provide a boost to green businesses and help limit US reliance on foreign oil, while managing the financial impact on carbon intensive firms. However, he carefully eschewed the rough and tumble of the on-going Senate debate, which has seen Republicans and a number of key Democrats rage against the bill as everything from a "jobs killer" to the first step towards a Communist One World government.
Obama has been able to do this because he knew he was holding the trump card in the form of the Environmental Protection Agency's "endangerment finding" that rules greenhouse gases pose a threat to public health and can be regulated under the existing Clean Air Act.
The EPA actually said they would issue the ruling back in the summer - and then, nothing. The Republicans were allowed to do everything in their power to block the Boxer-Kerry bill, demanding additional research on the bill and in a display of childish petulance even boycotting key committee hearings on the draft legislation.
And then yesterday, in a surprise move timed perfectly to coincide with the opening of the Copenhagen Summit, the administration formally approved the endangerment finding.
In one move, Obama has significantly increased the chances of his passing a domestic cap-and-trade bill and securing a genuine deal in Copenhagen.
US negotiators in Copenhagen can now guarantee that the US has the legal power to make good on President Obama's pledge to cut emissions by at least 17 per cent on 2005 levels by 2020 even if Congress blocks the climate bill.
And perhaps more importantly Democrat Senators can offer Republicans and opposing Democrats a stark choice: either get on board and help us shape a workable and ambitious cap-and-trade bill, or we will simply cut emissions through the blunt instrument of emissions standards for vehicles, industrial plants and power stations.
Making the case for the cap-and-trade bill yesterday, Senator John Kerry subtly spelled out precisely this choice, noting that "imposed regulations by definition will not include the job protections and investment incentives we are proposing in the Senate today". The Republicans appear to be over a barrel, they can either return to the negotiating table with their position much weakened or they can put up with more onerous carbon emission regulations.
Inevitably, this has prompted the usual sound and fury from Republican lawmakers who have accused Obama of acting unilaterally and displaying contempt for Congress. Although, accusing anyone of showing contempt for Congress when your Senators can't be bothered to show up for Committee hearings takes some brass neck.
They have also accurately predicted that any attempt to push new carbon rules through the Clean Air Act would face legal challenges. But then again this would not necessarily stop the EPA imposing the new rules while the legal battles proceed. Moreover, the Supreme Court has already ruled in support of the EPA's decision, meaning any law suit would have to come up with some pretty compelling new evidence that greenhouse gases are not a pubic health risk.
For business leaders in general and green business leaders in particular the EPA ruling has given them the investment certainty they crave. Anyone now doubting that the US will impose some form of regulation on carbon emissions, that energy bills will rise, and that low carbon business models and technologies will become more attractive is deluding themselves.
Of course, as the past few years of US politics have proven, plenty of people prefer delusion to reality, but fortunately the president is not amongst them. He has his eye on the main prize, and there is growing evidence that he could yet secure the climate victories he craves in both Washington, and perhaps more importantly, Copenhagen.
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