Although it has yet to fully emerge into the light of day, chances of passage of a Senate bill on energy and cimate, authored by Democrats John Kerry and Joe Lieberman, with the assistance of lone Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and the White House, should in theory be improved.
But as Tom Toles points out today, nothing of the sort seems to be happening:
Lindsey Graham, the only Republican in the Senate seemingly likely to vote for a bill to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, insists that the bill is about reducing our dependence on foreign oil, and that yes, climate change is a concern.
For this moderate position he has been exposed to fierce and even frightening opposition from his party and from "tea partiers" to the right of the Republican party, who are numerous in his conservative home state of South Carolina.
When President Obama allowed Senate Democrats to move consideration of an immigration reform bill ahead of energy and climate a week ago, Graham lost his temper, and lashed out at Democrats. David Roberts, an editor at the environmental site Grist, reluctantly agrees with Graham that Obama has allowed political considerations to trump climate and energy concerns.
It would have taken an extraordinary act of leadership for Obama to champion climate in the face of these political headwinds. He would have been gambling his administration and Democratic majorities with no clear expectation of success. I think the problem is of sufficient magnitude and urgency that such leadership is demanded of him, morally and politically. Obama doesn't. Graham wasn't wrong to notice.
For better or probably worse, the oil spill raises big questions, which experienced journalist Nomi Morris will discuss this upcoming Monday at Theater 150, starting at 7:00. Nomi always gives a good talk, but best of all is the discussion to follow, giving those interested in the issue in our community a chance to hear their thoughts debated. I'll be there this Monday; join us!