I almost feel sorry for Mitt Romney. Almost.
It turns out Mitt was for the climate before he was against it. And not very long ago, according to his own 2010 campaign book.
Poor (yeah, right) Mitt is apparently trying to serve two masters when it comes to environmental and energy policy. On the one hand, he's surely aware of recent polling data indicating that candidates who favor climate protection earn the support of Democrats, independents, and moderate Republicans.
On the other hand, he must appeal to a Republican base that not only looks down upon him, but also looks down upon climate science, thanks to 25 years of being bamboozled with balderdash from the same folks who once claimed cigarettes didn't cause cancer.
Romney's slogan is "Believe in America." I have to ask: which America? The fictional "center-right nation" created by Fox "News", or the America where facts, logic, reason and science matter? Can Romney even tell the difference at this point?...
Romney's handling of the climate issue reminds me of the good-Clark-Kent-vs.-bad-Superman fight in 1983's Superman III. There's the Romney who tells ScienceDebate.org,"I am not a scientist myself, but my best assessment of the data is that the world is getting warmer, that human activity contributes to that warming, and that policymakers should therefore consider the risk of negative consequences."
Then there's the Romney who tells the Republican National Convention and Meet the Press' David Gregory: "I'm not in this race to slow the rise of the oceans or to heal the planet. I'm in this race to help the American people." As if doing something to combat climate change is some sort of boutique issue unimportant to Americans.
As a Republican who thinks National Review founder William F. Buckley and former Michigan Governor George Romney got it right when they stood up to Fred Koch and the John Birch Society --- and who wishes that current National Review editor Rich Lowry and Mitt Romney would not bow down to Fred Koch's climate-contemptuous, fossil-fueled sons, Charles and David --- I would have no problem voting for a candidate who still believed in the following ideas:
- "It's impossible not to take a look at our current energy policies without considering the question of climate change. I believe that climate change is occurring --- the reduction in the size of global ice caps is hard to ignore. I also believe that human activity is a contributing factor."
- "Oil is purported to be one of the primary contributors to rising global temperatures. If in fact global warming is importantly caused by our energy appetite, it's yet one more reason for going on an energy diet..."
- "Many analysts predict that the world's production of oil will peak in the next ten to twenty years, but oil expert Matt Simmons, author of Twilight in the Desert: The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy, presents a compelling case that Middle Eastern oil production may have already reached its peak. Simmons bases his contention on his investigation into the highly secretive matter of the level of reserves in the Saudi oil fields. But whether the peak is already past or will be reached within a few years, world oil supply will decline at some point, and no one predicts a corresponding decline in demand. If we want America to remain strong and wish to ensure that future generations have secure and prosperous lives, we must consider our current energy policies in the light of how these policies will affect our grandchildren."
- "Whether global warming or energy security is one's primary concern, everyone agrees that finding substitute fuels for oil is a good thing. Oil is what makes us most vulnerable economically and oil accounts for 44 percent of our carbon dioxide emissions. Both camps also agree that we should exploit renewable energy sources like wind, solar, and agriculture-based fuels, as well as maximize energy opportunities from cogeneration --- which is the simultaneous production of heat and electricity from a single-fuel source."
- "The moment is long past due for us to recognize that we will inexorably run low on oil and that we must replace it with substitute fuels that make us more secure, free us from unfavorable foreign entanglements, make our economy stronger, and don't endanger the health of our planet. It's an enormous challenge --- yet it's the kind Americans have proven time and again that we can meet head-on."
Of course, that candidate's name was...Mitt Romney, who expressed these views as recently as 2010, in his campaign book, No Apology: The Case for American Greatness. The Romney who wrote these words clearly isn't running, because the Romney who wrote these words would never treat climate change as a joke, as he now does routinely on the campaign trail, and as he did at the Republican National Convention just over two weeks ago.
Even John McCain once showed the courage to go into the lion's den of denial and tell the GOP base that climate change was a clear and present danger in 2008. Romney doesn't have a logical excuse not to do exactly the same thing.
The indispensable climate blogger Peter Sinclair has noted that the very same right-wing operatives who downplayed the risk of Osama bin Laden's wrath prior to 9/11 are now downplaying the risk of Mother Nature's wrath, which has been provoked by our endless exploitation of fossil fuels. A real leader would stand up firmly against these demagogues, who have now launched a crusade against the concept of a carbon tax despite the fact that Romney's economic adviser, Greg Mankiw, has endorsed the idea.
Of course, Romney will not stand up to these demagogues, because he's a false leader...and will remain so even if he defeats President Obama.
D.R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based freelance writer and a former contributor to the conservative website Human Events Online. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Boston Herald, ClimateCrocks.com, FrumForum.com, the Ripon Forum, Truth-Out.org, TheNextRight.com, and BookerRising.com. In addition, he hosted a Blog Talk Radio program, The Notes, from August 2009 to June, 2010. You can follow him on Twitter here: @DRTucker.