Table Talk: Christie, Keystone, and Iran

February 1, 2014

Here are some ideas to help you through the weekend’s conversations about Chris Christie, the Keystone pipeline, and Iran, whether those discussions happen during family dinners or during a Sunday show appearance. 


According to a new report, David Wildstein, the former Christie-appointed Port Authority official who invoked his right to remain silent when previously questioned about Bridgegate, has evidence to show that Governor Christie knew about his aides’ plot to choke off George Washington Bridge approach lanes at the time it happened.       


Do not overemphasize the particulars of Wildstein’s accusations. Focus on the big picture story that this report confirms: the implausibility of Christie’s story that he was unaware of his closest aides’ actions and disapproved of their targeting his political enemies when he has not objected to many similar incidents in the past.


Wildstein is only telling us what we already know as a matter of public record: Chris Christie works closely with his top staff, and has a taste for petty political revenge. His claim that he was the victim here is just not credible.
Long before the Christie administration deliberately snared thousands of commuters in traffic, he was well-known for abusing his authority:

  • He pulled a former governor’s state trooper protection for publicly criticizing Christie.
  • He cut the funding for a Rutgers professor’s program after the professor opposed Christie’s position on local redistricting.
  • Christie used hurricane Sandy relief funds as his political slush funddoling them out in exchange for political favors and threatening to withhold funds from hard-hit towns to push through development deals for his cronies.
If Wildstein’s evidence shows Christie knew the lane closures were a political move at the time, that would prove Christie lied to everyone repeatedly in his two-hour press conference. Christie cannot serve in office after that kind of breach of trust.


Yesterday the State Department released its most recent Keystone pipeline environmental impact statement, which claims climate damage would be minimal on the theory that the tar sands oil will inevitably be burned anyway. Ultimately President Obama has the final say on whether the pipeline becomes a reality—and the White House is emphasizing that the report is not the last step. 


This is an environmentally devastating proposal that would jump-start development of the world’s dirtiest oil and bring only paltry benefits to the US. Point out the dishonest hype being used to sell it, especially on jobs, and that its climate impact is huge, undoing the progress Obama made on reducing emissions in his first term.


America could sure use some more good jobs, and affordable energy.
This deal is great for greedy companies and lobbyists, but it’s a raw deal for regular Americans.
They promised us this pipeline would bring us both good jobs and affordable energy. This new report confirms neither promise is true.

  • The oil is not for us. The pipeline carries the oil from greedy companies in Canada to dirty companies in China. The only oil we get is what leaks out of the pipeline into our water.
  • The jobs aren’t there. This pipeline was advertised as creating 20,000 jobs. But the new report admits there would be just 35 permanent jobs. We could employ more people a lot better by rebuilding a handful of our crumbling bridges.
The review was run by lobbyists for the oil industry hired by TransCanada, the Canadian company hoping to build the pipeline. America’s top oil industry lobbyist saw the final report before anyone in Congress was allowed to.
This new report pretends the pipeline makes no difference to our climate because the tar sands oil will be burnt with or without it. The truth is this pipeline is critical to getting tar sands oil to market: approving it will dramatically accelerate production of the world’s dirtiest oil, while rejecting it means production will be less and slower, protecting our climate.
President Obama promised to reject the pipeline if it damaged the climate. There is no question it does.

  • If it’s approved, Keystone will cause as much carbon pollution as 50 coal plants each year, which would mean game over for our climate.
  • Keystone would cancel out the benefits of the historic fuel economy standards put in place last year, Obama’s most important climate improvement measure.
If the President is serious about his climate legacy, he cannot approve this pipeline.

Killer Video: NextGen Climate Action bought an ad after the State of the Union address, arguing it’s “a sucker’s deal for America.”


More Senators are pulling their support of the Iran sanctions bill by the hour. Here’s how to talk about why the defeat of the sanctions bill would mean a victory for Americans who don’t want another war.  


Stay laser-focused on preventing another war and preventing Iran from getting the bomb. Make clear that politicians pushing for sanctions or Congressional resolutions to poison a final deal are pushing for war.


Americans don’t want another war in the Middle East.
But that is precisely what politicians criticizing diplomacy and proposing new Iran sanctions are pushing for.
If we can’t prevent Iran from getting a nuke through diplomacy, the only other way to stop it is war.
Iran’s willingness to talk and the preliminary deal between Iran and the West are historic. We need to give this a chance to work.
Unfortunately, even after being rebuked by our top diplomats and generals for the sanction bill, some politicians are still trying to tie our diplomats’ hands and undermine a final deal.
Politicians in Congress need to stop the political posturing and let our diplomats and national security experts do their jobs.

 KEY:  Connect with your audience |  Make your case | Show how your opponents differ