What's the best way to combat a ridiculous but damaging idea?
Ridicule. And even though -- as Gail Collins pointed out in what is surely the most amusingly brilliant political column of the year to date -- we as a culture have kind of lost interest in Barack Obama as an individual, he's still the president.
Barack Obama is universally known, but these days, if you have a conversation at the dinner table about him, the real topic is going to be something like health care or the unemployment rate. We’re so aware of his enormous responsibilities, we’ve sort of lost interest in Obama as a person. He may try to be diverting with the odd comment about sports or his dog, but, really, it doesn’t work.
Well, he may not be all that interesting a person these days, but he's still able to get attention when he gives a speech, and when he mocks his political opponent almost to their face, he still makes the news -- including FOX News.
Calling climate change deniers the radical fringe, he said:
Now, part of what’s unique about climate change, though, is the nature of some of the opposition to action. It’s pretty rare that you’ll encounter somebody who says the problem you’re trying to solve simply doesn’t exist. When President Kennedy set us on a course for the moon, there were a number of people who made a serious case that it wouldn’t be worth it; it was going to be too expensive, it was going to be too hard, it would take too long. But nobody ignored the science. I don’t remember anybody saying that the moon wasn’t there or that it was made of cheese. (Laughter.)
And today’s Congress, though, is full of folks who stubbornly and automatically reject the scientific evidence about climate change. They will tell you it is a hoax, or a fad. One member of Congress actually says the world is cooling. There was one member of Congress who mentioned a theory involving “dinosaur flatulence” — which I won’t get into. (Laughter.)
Now, their view may be wrong — and a fairly serious threat to everybody’s future — but at least they have the brass to say what they actually think. There are some who also duck the question. They say — when they’re asked about climate change, they say, “Hey, look, I’m not a scientist.” And I’ll translate that for you. What that really means is, “I know that manmade climate change really is happening, but if I admit it, I’ll be run out of town by a radical fringe that thinks climate science is a liberal plot, so I’m not going to admit it.” (Applause.)
Obama called John Boehner a liar to his face -- almost. On May 30th, John Boehner, Republican, Speaker of the House, the president's most prominent political opponent, as widely quoted when he said:
“Listen, I’m not qualified to debate the science over climate change.”
Having backpedaled away from the issue, as a scientist pointed out, while implying there was a debate in the science, Boehner then went on to claim that regulating power plants would ruin the economy, which must remain paramount over "changes to our environment."
Weird. Read closely, it almost sounds as if Boehner is admitting that climate change is happening, and we need to deal with it, but of course we can't use pollution control regulations.
Leaving the science and the fate of the planet aside, Is that really a good argument?
Could the fact that 70 percent of people polled on this subject said global warming was a "very serious" problem, supported carbon dioxide regulation, and declared their willingess to pay higher bills to reduce emissions in an ABC/Washington Post poll be embarrassing the GOP into admitting its ignorance?