Joseph Aldy worked for a while as a top energy aide in Obama’s White House. Apparently, while he was there he caught Dem Disease.
Dem Disease is an affliction that causes sufferers to prioritize being viewed as reasonable over securing reasonable policy. The primary symptom is a Tourette’s-like inability to keep from revealing how much one is willing to concede in negotiations … before negotiations begin. (Obama is, of course, a chronic sufferer — though he goes beyond revealing what he’s willing to concede to actually conceding it before negotiations begin, a sure sign the disease has reached its advanced stages.)
Aldy, a professor at the Kennedy School of Government, also works these days as an analyst at Brookings, and he’s got a new paper out proposing a technology-neutral Clean Energy Standard to help green the power sector. You can read the paper itself or a decent summary on the NYT green blog. I won’t get into the details; suffice to say, it’s modest, not particularly ambitious, but a decent start, at least for the power sector. Better than nothing. It doesn’t have a chance in hell of passing, so honestly the details aren’t that important.
That would be that. But it’s not enough for Aldy to have a sensible policy proposal. As a sufferer of Dem Disease, he needs to signal to the rest of the elite that he’s reasonable. And so we get this (it’s from a Politico Pro story, the very existence of which irks me, so I’m not gonna link):
Joe Aldy, who served as a top White House aide on energy and environmental issues, said Wednesday that the left may be willing to stomach pre-emption of EPA climate rules if Congress can reach a compromise on a clean energy standard advocated by President Barack Obama.
“I think one could, from a substantive standpoint, be comfortable substituting this for EPA authority,” Aldy said at a clean energy event hosted by the Brookings Institution. “And then I think there’s eventual political benefit, because we do have this ongoing debate in Congress, what to do about EPA authority.”
Great. After the serial failures of the last several years to secure decent climate or clean energy policy, the left has exactly one thing securely in hand: EPA authority. And influential voices on the left just can’t wait to give it away. That would produce a “political benefit,” you see, in that conservatives hate EPA authority and want to kill it, so if Dems killed it for them, they’d quit bitching about it.
This — and many, many other signals like it — has now made it quite clear to conservatives that Dems don’t have the stomach for the EPA fight and want it to go away. They’re willing to throw EPA overboard for just about anything.
Knowing that, do you think conservatives are going to approach negotiations in good faith, willing to compromise and meet halfway? Why would they? They already know they can get what they want — why would they concede anything at all? They smell blood in the water because Dems keep throwing chum in the damn ocean!
Conservatives understand, as Dems seem unable to, that in negotiations the smart thing to do is demand all of what you want and proclaim yourself unwilling to concede anything in return. Then, as negotiations proceed, if your opponents put serious contingent offers on the table, then — and only then — do you bend, and only as much as you need to in order to secure what you want.
Instead Dems run around advertising the concessions they’re willing to make, hoping the media, or voters, or their friends in the elite, or someone will give them brownie points for being so flexible and reasonable. It’s a disease, and I’m beginning to wonder if it might be terminal for the left’s clean energy hopes.