American Embarrassment

Congressional lawmakers who are dismissive of the international effort to address climate change are not just an embarrassment to our nation. If they don't recant, they are sowing the seeds of their defeat at the ballot box. These lawmakers have yet to recognize that making a top campaign priority out of rejection of the rest of the world's efforts to save the planet is a losing proposition.

While leaders from more than 190 nations were wrestling with the fate of humanity at a Paris conclave, legislators on Capitol Hill were approving resolutions declaring we were not on board. They were evidently willing to go to any length to undercut President Obama in Paris, even at the risk of isolating us from the international community. It is a dead-end policy because their narrow base of support is destined to fade as climate change's adverse impacts intensify.
Already, the latest polls show that denial of a human-generated climate change threat by the Republican Party and a smattering of Democratic legislators is contrary to the views of a majority of Americans.

Yet there is little sign of the Republican congressional majority retreating from their embarrassing environmental stance. They continue to take pride in thumbing their noses at the rest of the world even as global cooperation becomes ever more crucial to overcome trans-continental environmental challenges. The Republican climate change deniers are so fixated on neutralizing President Obama that it has interfered with their capacity to govern. Stalemate has resulted from their knee-jerk opposition to administration initiatives, even if the initiatives were originally a Republican idea.

Republican lawmakers complained that Obama's regulatory initiative to reduce domestic carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants was being instituted by unelected bureaucrats. But those bureaucrats were simply implementing the proposal of the president, who happens to be the only nationwide elected official in Washington.

Most candidates for the Republican presidential nomination have operated from the premise that their standing with their conservative base would be enhanced by heaping ridicule on President Obama and the Paris Summit. Senator Ted Cruz proclaimed mockingly that President Obama thinks having a pollution-spewing sport utility vehicle in the driveway is a greater threat than Islamic terrorists. Mike Huckabee labeled Obama in Paris as "meteorologist-in- chief". Jeb Bush said that if he were president, he doubted he would have attended the Parisian gathering.
On the House floor, you had some Republicans denouncing the entire summit as a session in pseudo-science. Obama's attendance at the meeting was frequently condemned as solely an ideological exercise to build his legacy.

Most brazen of all was Donald Trump's accusation that Obama had embarrassed the nation by declaring in Paris that climate change was the greatest long term danger facing mankind. Never expect an apology. Trump's defends his most outrageous verbal gaffes by demeaning the critics of his statements.

Best bet is that the above demagoguery will wear thin with the vast majority of the American people, certainly by Election Day in 2016 if not sooner.