When President Obama’s expected veto of the Keystone pipeline came yesterday, it was swift and as dishonest as it could possibly be.

Instead of saying outright that he opposes the Keystone pipeline, the president pretended that he is sticking up for procedure, an amusing notion for this president in particular, and that possibly the most studied project in American history needs more study. USA Today described the veto this way:

In a terse veto message, the president said the Keystone legislation would "circumvent longstanding and proven processes" for evaluating a project like this one. Oh, please. The administration has been evaluating Keystone for more than six years.

There's just no plausible excuse for the epic delay that has turned what should be a relatively minor policy dispute into one of Washington's hyperventilated shouting matches.

I’d beg to differ on what the newspaper seems to regard as the silliness of the shouting match ofver a minor policy dispute: far from being minor anything, the Keystone pipeline is an $8 billion project that could have created jobs in the U.S. and brought us energy from a friendly neighbor. It is typical of President Obama to act as if he is standing up for principle and procedure when he is doing nothing of the kind.

He is in fact really standing up for the radical elements of the environmental movement and with only two more years in office the president lost a chance to be refreshingly candid. That would have inaugurated a new phase of presidency.

The Wall Street Journal argues this morning that the veto does indeed begin a new phase, but one of isolation rather than candor. The Keystone pipeline enjoyed broad public and bipartisan support, including nine Democratic senators and twenty-eight Democratic congressmen. Business and labor unions supported it, seeing economic opportunity for the U.S.  

The Journal writes:

White House aides are whispering that President Obama ’s veto of the Keystone XL pipeline authorization bill signals a new phase of his Presidency, and we suppose they’re right. He’ll finish out his tenure as a Howard Hughes-like penthouse recluse who is ever more withdrawn from the political and economic center. …

Mr. Obama is refusing [the economic benefits the pipeline would have brought] to bow to the environmental-left fringe that opposes all carbon energy. The reason he gave in a quiet veto message to Congress—no speech, no cameras—was that the bill “cuts short thorough consideration of issues that could bear on our national interest.” The Keystone has been in regulatory limbo for about 2,300 days in perhaps the most extensive permitting review in the history of American government.

Aside from his green billionaire friends, we suspect Mr. Obama also wanted to frustrate what happens to be an incidental Republican priority: The House is 11 votes and the Senate merely four votes short of the two-thirds majority necessary for a override.

The Washington press corps is all but filing profiles of Mr. Obama’s veto pen (a Cross Townsend roller-ball) and explaining that his wall of vetoes against anything that comes out of Congress is his “strategy” for the next two years. The better way of putting it is that Mr. Obama will leave office increasingly isolated, obstructionist and partisan.