Who is most relevant to the question of whether it is politically feasible for Obama to follow through on his State of the Union promise (http://www.dailykos.com/...) to take executive actions against climate change?
Public opinion is swinging quickly, as even the WSJ admits that:
The latest polling shows support for government action on climate, even the kind of executive actions Mr. Obama threatened. And Thursday, the Government Accountability Office said for the first time that climate change poses a direct financial threat to the federal government. (http://blogs.wsj.com/...)McKibben’s (and the Sierra Club’s) February 17 demonstration in Washington will be important confirmation that many people are getting more active (and supporting civil disobedience) in demanding urgent and fundamental climate change action as a top priority.
"I'm totally in opposition to that [unilateral executive] approach," [West Virginia SenatorJoe] Manchin said. "Our founding fathers put a system together that has worked pretty well for us, and I think we should adhere to the system we have - the three branches of government, with responsibilities and powers invested in each. I would be very outspoken if that would come to pass and he would try to circumvent that." (http://www.heraldstaronline.com/...)A Senator from notoriously coal-dependent West Virginia is probably less relevant than Republican “moderates” in states that are not so dependent on coal, for example:
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said she wonders where the president's been all this time. "I think the president relies too much on executive orders and not enough on working with Congress to produce legislation," Collins said. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/...)What is the relevance of Obama nominations of Kerry and Hagel?
Kerry’s well-known concern about environmental issues suggests hat he would be embarrassed if the Department of State approved the Keystone XL pipeline shortly after he became Secretary. Would he have given up his Senate seat and committee chairmanship for this?
Hagel’s present role, in highlighting (as filibustered nominee) the impossibility of “working with Congress” (per Senator Collins’ dishonest comment above), could greatly increase Obama’s ability to secure support from a majority of the public for aggressive executive actions.