Last year, Blue Dog Leonard Boswell received a left-wing primary challenge from former state Representative Ed Fallon. Boswell's central, and perhaps only, message to left-wing and new media-focused Democrats was his endorsement by Al Gore. Desmoinesdem explained at the time:
Accompanying these messages, Boswell's campaign has made sure to remind Iowa Democrats that Al Gore supports Boswell, whereas Fallon supported Ralph Nader for president in 2000. A photo of Al and Tipper Gore, along with a letter from Gore endorsing Boswell, are prominently displayed on the front page of the Boswell campaign's website.(...)
Last Thursday another glossy mailer from the Boswell campaign arrived in my mailbox. This one focused on Gore's endorsement of Boswell, with a large photo and a letter from the former vice-president. Here is an excerpt from that piece (all bolded passages were bold in the original):
Leonard Boswell, a remarkable congressman and my friend, is facing a serious primary challenge.
Whether the issue is global warming or increasing the minimum wage, making college more affordable or expanding health care to every American, Leonard Boswell is on the front lines of these issues, working hard for Iowans every day.
Leonard Boswell won the campaign, in no small part because of Gore's endorsement. Now, here is Leonard Boswell, on the front lines of climate change legislation, just last week:
Democrats and Republicans on the committee took turns criticizing the legislation. Their chief complaint is that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, rather than the U.S. Department of Agriculture, would be in a charge of the credit program through which farmers could get paid for practices that store crop residue in the soil or otherwise reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
"As this bill stands today, I can't vote for it," Rep. Leonard Boswell, D-Ia., told Vilsack. "I don't know of anyone else in the committee who can."
Al Gore is arguing that the Waxman-Markey climate change legislation has "the moral significance equivalent to that of the civil rights legislation of the 1960s and the Marshall Plan of the late 1940s." Now, Leonard Boswell, along with seemingly all other Democrats on the Agriculture Committee, is hijacking climate change legislation unless it removes the EPA's authority to determine carbon offsets. Note that this is already on top of the bill's provision to eliminate the EPA's ability to regulate carbon itself, which is actually a step backward for climate change regulation in the Unites states.
The reason I bring is up is that, whenever groups like Friends of the Earth or Greenpeace criticize Waxman-Markey for not going far enough, they are immediately smacked down by bloggers like Joe Romm at Climate Progress for failing to offer up "politically realistic" alternatives. However, if this is all about political realism, then why are we seeing the following from Al Gore and Climate Progress in response to the Agriculture Committee's actions:
As such, here is my message for the self-proclaimed political realists who are supporters of Waxman-Markey:
- Al Gore has not made a single public statement about either Leonard Boswell or the Agriculture Committee, despite what they are currently doing to Waxman-Markey.. This is even though Boswell largely owes his position in Congress to Al Gore. One might think that political realists would use this past support to try and influence Boswell in some manner.
- Climate Progress have never even mentioned Leonard Boswell once for the more than three years of their existence
according to Google. In fact, Climate Progress has never directly attacked the actions of the Agriculture Committee in the same way that it has repeatedly, and sometimes viciously, attacked environmental groups that criticize of the bill from the left. All Climate Progress is doing about the Agriculture Committee's actions is putting up articles declaring that the House will pass the bill, and a guest post very politely telling farmers why it would be super swell if they supported global warming legislation.
The Democrats on the Agriculture Committee are probably, as a group, the most electorally vulnerable Democrats on any House committee. Some of the Democratic members of this committee, like Leonard Boswell, owe their continuing presence in Congress to people like Al Gore, and certainly to hundreds of progressive donors who would be upset about what Agriculture Committee Democrats are currently doing to climate change legislation. As such, either start directly attacking these vulnerable Democrats in progressive media and Democratic fundraising circles for what they are doing to Waxman-Markey, or stop priding yourself on your political realism.
If Waxman-Markey really is so unbelievably awesome, as both Al Gore and Climate Progress keep arguing, then we should be doing everything possible to pass it. Instead, Al Gore and Climate Progress seem to be giving the Democrats on the Agriculture Committee a free pass on significantly watering down the bill. I have no idea this is happening, but it certainly isn't because they are using all available, politically realistic means to pass Waxman-Markey.
Start playing some hardball, or stop telling us that we are about to get the best climate change bill politically possible.