May 28

The New Republic’s recent article by Jonathan Cohn, “Obama’s new rules for coal plants are a B.F.D.,” exemplifies what is wrong with the political debate on climate change. The piece is ostensibly about the new Environmental Protection Agency regulations that will limit carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants, but it serves to make the left’s tired case for action on global warming.

In pushing the left’s climate change agenda, Cohn cites the same old claims that get repeated ad nauseam. He even purports to answer a list of “frequently asked questions,” but actually relies on vague talking points supplied by the usual suspects on the left instead of providing any precise, clear information. What scientists say about global warming isn’t the problem; the problem is what political professionals and ideologues say when they enter into the conversation. The public sees their dishonesty and reacts accordingly. This is why climate alarmists lose most objective voters.

I pass all writings related to global warming through my filter of asking whether the author states what his plans to reduce global warming will cost, who will pay and what result will be achieved. Here, Cohn is at best evasive or at worst deceptively too cute by half in his avoidance of supplying any clarity.

Astonishingly, Cohn claims that these forthcoming new EPA regulations will provide “the Administration with more leverage to negotiate a far-reaching, international treaty on emissions from multiple sources.” Is he serious? Which administration is he talking about? Members of the Obama administration have proved time and time again that they could not negotiate themselves out of a wet paper bag. No country is going to watch the United States unilaterally harm our own economy in deference to the global thermostat and think that it should follow suit. It is crazy to think otherwise.

Cohn goes on to reference research from the Center for American Progress and the Natural Resources Defense Council, neither of which can be claimed as nonpartisan or unbiased.  Center for American Progress senior fellow Daniel Weiss called the plan to reduce power plant emissions by about 25 percent a “major blow against climate change.” Really. What constitutes a “major blow”? What is the result we can expect? A planet cooled by a degree? Half a degree? When? Next, Cohn cites the Natural Resources Defense Council estimate that the “net savings to society” as a result of carbon emissions limits “would be between $25 and $53 billion in 2020.” In other words, virtually nothing. What does he mean by “society?” What society is he talking about: American society? Global society? You get my point.

Cohn offers a question the majority of Americans can relate to: “This is going to drive up my electric bills, isn’t it?” His answer is rich. It includes the pathetic advice, “If you find ways to use less electricity – whether it’s as simple as turning off more lights or as complicated as putting in new insulation – then your bill can stay the same or come down.” In other words, yes, your electric bill will go up, but Cohn won’t dare say by how much. Until those who want the public to be alarmed and want to micromanage our lives are more honest, the voters will continue to shrug and snicker.

This type of superficial preaching and condescending pablum reminded me of a great quote that recently caught my eye from New York Times columnist Paul Krugman. In a classic case of projection, Krugman said, “the European elite’s habit of disguising ideology as expertise, of pretending that what it wants to do is what must be done, has created a deficit of legitimacy.” Sound familiar? This is exactly what liberals in America are doing with the global warming debate.

Members of the left in America could learn from these words from one of their own. They need to be honest with themselves and others about how the absurdity of their platitudes and the punitive measures they want to take are what is destroying the political debate on global warming, not Republican intransigence or denial that man-made global warming is at hand.

 

Follow Ed on Twitter: @EdRogersDC

 

Ed Rogers is a contributor to the PostPartisan blog, a political consultant and a veteran of the White House and several national campaigns. He is the chairman of the lobbying and communications firm BGR Group, which he founded with former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour in 1991.