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Posted at 05:55 PM ET, 12/06/2011

Jon Huntsman’s climate flop?


Not moving. (MANDEL NGAN - AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
“To be clear: I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy.”

Like most climate change positions, that cheeky Huntsman tweet just melted. First Romney. Now Huntsman too?

Huntsman once told Jake Tapper that “the minute that the Republican Party becomes . . . the anti-science party, we have a huge problem.”

“I’m not changing that at all. I still say that,” Huntsman said Tuesday. “I say because of that — I’m not a physicist, I’m not a scientist. I tend to defer to those who do it for a living. I’d be prepared to take it out of the political milieu and put it into the scientific milieu.”

But, he went on, “there are questions about the validity of the science — evidence by one university over in Scotland recently,” which Politico suggests is a reference to the “Climategate 2.0” e-mails that emerged last month from England’s University of East Anglia.

“I think the onus is on the scientific community to provide more in the way of information, to help clarify the situation. That’s all,” Huntsman said.

This is not what “trust scientists on global warming” used to mean. Given that Huntsman says his position isn’t changing, maybe I shouldn’t be worried if he goes on to say the climate is not changing. Clearly “not changing” means something different to him than it does to most of us.

Besides, it’s not as though he’s completely shifted away from his position. “But do I defer to science and those who happen to do this for a living?” he added. “Yeah, I do, as I do on issues like cancer, for example.”

It’s a relief that he has some standards. Huntsman now demands Real Science-y Evidence Unlike That Other Evidence We Have Now for global warming, but hey, he is still taking the bold and radical position of not resorting to shamanism when confronted with medical problems. That’s roughly parallel.

Look, people, like climates, are entitled to change. In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds. Perhaps Huntsman read those most recent e-mails from Britain and gleaned something from them that I missed. But I don’t think this is “not changing.”

“Huntsman says the climate may not be changing, but he also said that his position hadn’t changed, so really what he’s saying is that nothing is not unchanging, or rather — ” I mutter, frantically. “You see? You see?”

“You need to drink less coffee,” everyone murmurs.

All I can do is supply facts. Huntsman is now polling at fourth place, barely, in New Hampshire, where he has devoted most of his resources. We are approaching the Time of Reckoning. And suddenly he wants to modify his cheeky climate change attitude a tad. Correlation? Causation? I defer to science.

Is this really what the party demands? Is there no room for debate on whether there’s room for debate? What on earth do people want? I’ve begun to worry that the only criteria that would satisfy most skeptics would be some sort of undiscovered Dead Sea Scroll of the Bible where God personally announced that it might be worth looking into whether climate changes were man-made. But then someone would leak God’s e-mails and the whole cycle would start over again.

Months ago, Huntsman told ABC’s Tapper that Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s climate-change skepticism was “a serious problem” and noted that beliefs like that mean “We lose a whole lot of people who would otherwise allow us to win the election in 2012.”

That’s one thing that hasn’t changed. Or rather, has changed. Well, you know what I mean.

By  |  05:55 PM ET, 12/06/2011

Tags:  GOP 2012, Huntsman, science?

 
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