In season one, episode six of the show “Sex and the City,” Carrie frets whether her new beau, Mr. Big, is keeping her from his social circle. Her worries were prompted by the plight of her friend Mike Singer, who had found an ideal lover in sales clerk Libby Biyalick, but who preferred to keep the affair secret because he was embarrassed to be seen with her in public.
In many ways, the association between the President and the environmental movement is a lot like that between Mike Singer and Libby Biyalick.
On the one hand, the greens and the President share an intimate relationship characterized by symbiotic back-scratching. Environmental special interest organizations increasingly are active in the business of political advertising on behalf the President and his party, which is the ultimate currency with any politician. And President Obama has shown much love for environmentalists, by waging an unprecedented war on their #1 enemy, the coal industry.
And yet, despite this cozy relationship, President Barack Obama clearly doesn’t want to be seen in public with the greens. In the course of three debates, President Obama never once mentioned “global warming,” nor did he tout any of his environmental policies (He mentioned CAFE standards and green energy, but that was in the context of “energy independence” and “all of the above”). Quite apart from bragging about his green bona fides, the President actually tried to appear more of a friend to fossil fuels than his opponent.
Ouch! Humiliation notwithstanding, environmentalists can take much solace in the fact that the President has delivered pretty much everything they could ask for in the way of anti-fossil fuel policies.
[Updated: 6:26 AM, 24 October 2012. I completely forgot to give an explanation for why President Obama wants to be private-not-public friends with environmentalists. At this point in a Presidential election, all of a candidate’s actions and words have been focus-grouped and polled, such that they are carefully calibrated to achieve maximum appeal among independent voters. With this in mind, the President’s debate performances indicate that the Obama campaign thinks independents give low priority to global warming.]