Climate Change Debate Shifts: From Denier to Delayer

by: Matt Stoller

Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 14:46

This is interesting.

"They both call. And I appreciate that fact," Gore said on the CBS television program "60 Minutes" last week.

Obama, the Democratic front-runner, says he keeps in regular contact with Gore and has pledged to make him a major player on global warming in an Obama administration.

"I will make a commitment that Al Gore will be at the table and play a central part in us figuring out how we solve this problem," Obama said.

Clinton told reporters she did not know whether Gore wanted to get back into government but was sure the American people would welcome it.

"I am very dependent upon the work that Al Gore has done for so many years on behalf of climate change," she said.

Gore's spokeswoman, Kalee Kreider, declined to comment on the Obama offer and was complimentary about the presidential candidates, including Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

"Former Vice President Gore thinks that both candidates are very strong. Both of them have offered plans to address the climate crisis ... as has Senator McCain," she said.

"It's a real turnaround to have candidates on both sides of the aisle offering, you know, solutions and plans to the climate crisis."

I find this to be a very irritating argument from Kreider and Gore, who know very well that McCain's political base is not interested in climate change legislation.  The deniers are going to move to become delayers, and that's the argument we're going to have to fight.  But I also get why Gore wants to take McCain in good faith, since he feels it's important to hold people accountable to the words they utter on the campaign trail.  Of course, George W. Bush promised to tackle climate change, and didn't.

McCain is using an old trick, and a very annoying and transparent one.  Early in this primary season, I heard a lot of discussion about how Gore should run, that he's a better candidate now that he's free of the consultants.  I think what this proves is that he was never a good candidate, he never liked partisan give-and-take, and he never wanted to deal with the right-wing as it actually is, a toxic swamp of bad faith dishonesty.  This 'both sides of the aisle' stuff might work one day, but there's zero evidence that it makes sense as a political strategy.   The party of George W. Bush just does not deserve the presumption of good faith.

Matt Stoller :: Climate Change Debate Shifts: From Denier to Delayer

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But they deserve (4.00 / 1)
The pretense of the presumption of good faith. Republicans deserve better treatment than what Bush gives Iran.

Things You Don't Talk About in Polite Company: Religion, Politics, the Occasional Intersection of Both

No, not really. What an amusing idea? Where did you come up with it? (0.00 / 0)

[ Parent ]
The party of George W. Bush, GHW ("October Surprise) Bush, (0.00 / 0)
Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford, and Richard Nixon, just does not deserve the presumption of good faith.

Fixed you elisions...

Maybe Gore is doing this: (4.00 / 1)
Maybe he's framing the political debate as: every candidate, to be legitimate, must have a plan on global warming. Ergo: it is not politically legitimate to ignore the issue of global warming. This also implies that to do nothing on global warming is a political failure. And the candidate who is less strong on global warming is in a weaker position politically.

By contrast, if the framing is: all Republicans are against doing anything on global warming, then it becomes (or remains) a merely partisan issue, and actually doing something about global warming remains as likely as getting universal health care passed, or ending the Iraq War, or any of the other things that will not happen so long as Republicans are unified in opposition, and Democrats don't have a supermajority in Congress.

In other words, Gore doesn't want to push McCain towards a polarized right-wing position on global warming. He wants the candidates to compete on the global warming issue. And that seems savvy to me.

In a strictly political sense... (4.00 / 1)
I think the Dems should hammer McCain on global warming and his other more moderate stances. McCain is then put in a bind...

1) Defend his maverick status and alienate the right wing base (or at least make it abundantly clear he is not one of them)


2) Stick with his party's position and give the Dems an easy to understand example to trot out of how McCain's maverick status is a media myth.

I think the key to a McCain victory is a coalition of GOP and Independents based on each group thinking McCain is on their side and simply hoodwinking the other. We need to make him choose, and with a little prodding, McCain's temper will do the rest.  

[ Parent ]
Different Perspective. (0.00 / 0)
  Gore isn't saying this as a politician.  He speaking like a person from a special interest group such as NARAL or The League of Conservation voters.  But this also illustrates how poorly interest groups make decisions.  Remember when NARAL endorsed Lieberman?  Remember when the Sierra Club endorsed Congressman Fitzpatrick (PA-08) against challenger and now Congressman Patrick Murphy?  These groups think if they suck up to all the candidates, or even worse, if they suck up to the incumbent (no matter how much the incumbent is against their cause), they will gain influence.  Fitzpatrick was given a D- by the Sierra Club, and they still endorsed him!  WRONG.     These groups don't know what they're doing.  You can't play all sides.  
  Sorry, that turned into a rant.  

John McCain lets lobbyists shape his economic policy

Cachy's point is valid. Matt's fear justified. (4.00 / 1)
Global warming denial is the moral equivalent of holocaust denial. That anyone would deny global warming and the need for strong action marks them as irredeemably evil, insane or stupid.

This has been known, by the informed, and by the evil, for along time now. I am willing to forgive past mistakes in articulation, though not in action, for any that come forward now with support for real action. It also means that Gore's "line in the sand" as Cachy implies, is a necessary step for us to take. We must draw the line here, sanity is on the side of committing to action against the crisis that has arrived, but that has barely introduced itself in hurricanes, droughts, floods and species extinction.

Of course McCain will do something to start the road back to a ecosystem in equilibrium, anything less is insane. Does his allegiance to the class of greed skew his proposals so much that it makes the effort laughably short of effective? I think so, and I think that an excellent campaign can be mounted to expose that.  Expose those under the thumb of the lobbyists and special interests, who have a strangle hold on democracy, so that their paltry efforts serve as a lesson about our wider crisis. That we have many huge problems, and most of the solutions to these problems are hidden, obscured and fought against by the ones making a profit off the problem.

But the line is drawn, if you do not have even a paltry plan, one beholden to interests uninterested in sacrificing personally and powerful enough to avoid it, then you are insane, or evil or as stupid as . .  .


The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky

Gore risked something huge here. (0.00 / 0)
Because so many people think he is sane on this, and Gore will add to that misperception.

"Of course McCain will do something to start the road back to a ecosystem in equilibrium, anything less is insane."

When did sanity ever color his actions? He vetoed every environmetal bill in this last year, by not honoring his words with a vote.

The man has lied repeatedly about his interest in this issue, than not voted on it when push comes to shove. On his site, unlike Obama and Hillary who have long detailed plans, there is "just words", no plan at all.

He appears to like nuke power somewhat, but thats enough for him.

John McCain vetoes every Environmental Bill already.

[ Parent ]
It becomes terratory to be winning in. (4.00 / 1)
The risk is in not doing the exposure. This where the change is. This is what people are understanding, the solutions are being obscured for money; on oil, on healthcare, on jobs, on trade deals, on wages going down, on outsourcing and on the war.

McCain endorses "doing something about global warming" is like Bush spreading 'democracy' in Iraq. Of course we all support democracy, this is the same line. Only an insane person would be against democracy. Thats the line described, I endorse drawing it. Of course we are acting to solve the climate crisis.

But McCain's plan for the environment is a good place to expose that he is beholden to the people who dont want a solution.


The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky

[ Parent ]
This proves Gore was never a good candidate? (4.00 / 1)
That's a bit much.  Gore's not a candidate, he's not acting as a candidate, nor is he acting as a partisan advocate of any candidate or party.  Beating up on McCain is the job of our, you know, actual candidates.  This is no evidence of whether or not Gore believes in "post-partisan" politics --  I'm guessing that after his experiences in the Clinton administration and after being robbed of the presidency himself, Gore is pretty clear on what the right-wing is about.  The thing is, as much as we might hate it, as much as I feel sure Gore would hate it, McCain could win.  So, Gore's job for now is to position himself to help coordinate a global effort fighting climate change with whomever snags the brass ring.  

I question whether it would even help the Dems to have Gore swinging at the Republicans right now.  The climate change deniers aren't voting for us anyway and I strongly doubt anybody who's voting on environmental concerns needs to be swayed.  Gore would be a distraction.

Gore, Politics and Climate Change (0.00 / 0)
I think Gore gets a lot of crap from people who generally agree with him over his handling of politics. I read tons of articles complaining that Gore is the wrong person, or Gore needs to be more bipartisan to get the message across. Then others say Gore needs to be more partisan and proclaim that only Democrats are willing to even take half-assed measures on climate change. Let's not pretend that Obama or Clinton actually have plans that really address the seriousness of the situation.

In the end, I'm glad that Gore didn't run. He has a mission in life and he appears to love doing it. Let the naysayers bitch one way or the other. He's done more to address climate change than any other individual. He can keep doing it however he sees fit.


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