Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The missing topic from the campaign and the debates: The environment

Remember this line from June 2008, right after Barack Obama had secured the Democrat nomination for President over Hillary Clinton? It was a line that made the left giddy. It made independents and moderates gasp and conservatives giggle.

“This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.”

As it turns out, it really wasn’t. It also wasn’t the moment where we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; or when we secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth.

The economy is still a moribund mess. The promised level of 5% unemployment seems laughable. Obamacare is slowly revealing itself as the monster deficit creator that conservatives knew it would be and the world sees the United States as a idle power. We are four years closer to a nuclear Iran and the middle east is a raging inferno. Secured? Clearly not.

But what is strangely missing from this campaign is a subject that, to my memory, hasn’t even been explored in any of the four Presidential and Vice Presidential debates. What about the environment? What about climate change and rising sea levels?

Obama has been AWOL on this subject since at least 2009, and the disastrous management of the Gulf Oil Spill all but sealed the deal. This is no environmental president, and if he wanted to hammer Mitt Romney on how those polluting Republicans would poison the planet, he’d have done it in a major fashion in the first debate.

From Malor’s first link:

Remember those long-ago days when Obama wanted a greenhouse "cap and trade" program? Remember when it died in the Democratic-controlled Senate without his support? Can you name what year it was the last time Obama attended a UN climate change conference? (Hint: it came before a famous "shellacking" in the polls). 

You don't have to take my word for it that Obama has failed to match his rhetoric to his deeds. Former Vice President Al Gore himself famously called out Obama for failing to take action on the climate, saying "“He has simply not made the case for action. He has not defended the science against the ongoing, withering and dishonest attacks. Nor has he provided a presidential venue for the scientific community — including our own National Academy — to bring the reality of the science before the public.”

After the failed Copenhagen climate change conference, Friends of the Earth said, "Obama has deeply disappointed not only those listening to his speech at the UN talks, he has disappointed the whole world." The spokesman for the World Development Movement criticized, ""he president said he came to act, but showed little evidence of doing so." And the World Wildlife Fund said Obama had let the world down by failing to push Congress for climate change legislation."

He’s shown little evidence of acting in almost everything he’s promised. Healthcare costs are not lower and aren’t going down. Job creation isn’t growing enough to even keep up with population growth. The only reason why our unemployment rate isn’t in double digits is because more people are moving out of the workforce than new jobs are being created, and the labor participation rate is at its highest level since the transition from Jimmy Carter to Ronald Reagan. It should come as no surprise then that Obama doesn’t want to talk much about receding oceans and whatnot.

The stunning lack of progress on all fronts has the left quite dismayed and is probably a big reason why polls show such a huge enthusiasm gap between the left and the right in the 2012 cycle. It’s also probably a big reason why independents are swinging to Romney in almost every swing state. But the curious omission of environmental policy from any serious discussion has vocal members of the hard left livid.

With exactly two weeks left until Election Day, it’s nearly impossible for Obama to try to pivot (again) to this topic. If he does so, expect the GOP to pounce on it as another reason why Obama also doesn’t want to talk much about the economy, jobs or the middle east and why he’s much happier talking about investing in Chinese oil companies and explaining how aircraft carriers and submarines work.

Here’s that megalomaniacal speech from four years ago:

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