Saturday evening, at the ultra-pretentious White House Correspondents’ Dinner, President Obama took congressional Republicans to task for blocking his climate agenda. Vox’s Ezra Klein & Climate Progress’s Joe Romm loved the president’s routine, which they believed to entail the delivery of “brutal truths.”
In fact, the joke is on Klein and Romm, who’ve been duped by O’s duplicitous and disingenuous climate stand-up/speech.
For starters, the President misidentified the objects of his scorn. It’s his own caucus, rather than republicans, that’s at the root of his problems. As I’ve explained over and over and over again, opposition to climate policy is robustly bipartisan in both chambers of the U.S. Congress. Indeed, if all issues enjoyed the bipartisan support that does opposition to climate change mitigation policy, then no one would ever whine about D.C. being dysfunctional.
In this manner, Obama’s thesis—the one that is being championed by Klein & Romm—is wrong. But it’s worse than that, for the president is being a giant phony, in addition to his being mistaken.
For example, where was the president’s anger and passion about climate change in 2012, when he was running for president? As I’ve before explained, Obama ran to the right of Romney on energy policy. Before the American public in 2012, Obama trumpeted his support for gas, oil, and—yes, even—coal! That Obama, the one trying to get elected, ran away from climate change as an issue. Yet we’re to believe he’s long maintained a simmering rage over the congress’s opposition to doing something about climate change? Only partisan hacks would take this at face value.
There are other reasons I don’t buy the president’s climate shtick. In a great piece two weeks ago, RealClearPolitics’s Alexis Simendinger noted that Obama flaks are trumpeting his focus on “energy security” as a major component of his legacy. By “energy security,” the administration is referring to the precipitous recent increase in oil and gas production in America (which occurred despite the President’s policies, not because of them, fyi). So Obama is celebrating hydrocarbons–the cause of AGW–and hopes they become part of his story as will be told in history books. That hardly sounds like someone for whom climate change is the end-all concern!
A final factor that belies genuine presidential concern on climate change is the timing of his marquee climate initiative—the Clean Power Plan. I’ve before explained how this plan would upend the electricity sector. For states, federal government, and the private sector, the rule would be an administrative nightmare. Yet compliance couldn’t possibly occur until the next President takes office (as I explain in section IV. C. here). In practice, then, Obama created a gigantic (discretionary) legal and regulatory headache, and then left it to the next president to solve. IMHO, this is far from a profile in courage.