Thursday, January 25, 2007

SOTU: Bush Fiddles While Globe Warms

In the days leading up to President Bush's State of the Union address, the White House leaked word that the president would be making new announcements on climate change and energy policy. Unfortunately, his proposals seem carefully crafted to appease the most interest groups while having the lowest actual impact on global warming. (And really, the most compelling story of the day was over his left shoulder, as Rep. Nancy Pelosi became the first woman to preside over a State of the Union address as House Speaker.)

In an era where denying climate change is a national outrage, I'm amazed the Bush administration thinks this plan would make even a ripple in the debate. If not for the serious setting of the SOTU, the Bush plan would be dismissed as completely inadequate even as a starting point. The Washington Post reports on how "each of [President Bush's] proposals immediately prompted questions about its ultimate effectiveness."

As the Post detailed today, the President is only now even admitting that climate change exists, never mind acting properly to address it:

"America's on the verge of technological breakthroughs that will enable us to live our lives less dependent on oil. And these technologies will help us become better stewards of the environment, and they will help us to confront the serious challenge of global climate change."
- Jan. 23, 2007

"We must also act in a serious and responsible way, given the scientific uncertainties. While these uncertainties remain, we can begin now to address the human factors that contribute to climate change. Wise action now is an insurance policy against future risks."
- Feb. 14, 2002

"Global warming needs to be taken very seriously, and I take it seriously. But science, there's a lot -- there's differing opinions. And before we react, I think it's best to have the full accounting, full understanding of what's taking place."
- Oct. 11, 2000
Once Republicans and corporations were lumped together in the global warming deniers, but today, even corporations are tackling climate change as a looming threat to their financial health, and calling on President Bush to do more.

More generally speaking, the most common reaction I've heard to Tuesday night's addresses is that Sen. Jim Webb's response blew the doors off of Bush's SOTU. Six months ago I was taking bets from people who didn't think Webb would come within 10 points of then-Sen. (and then-presidential candidate) George Allen. Now Webb is the one being talked about as a potential presidential candidate! Life just wouldn't be as fun without unbelievable comebacks, would it?
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