I was going to wrap this into a previous post, but this kind of spectacular cluelessness deserves its time in the spotlight.

Watch two mandarins of Beltway "moderation," Mark Shields and David Brooks, discuss Bush’s "new" climate strategy:

Astounding. You really could not ask for a more crystalline example of the intellectual tics that have come to substitute for thought among the D.C. media chattering class.

A couple of things to note.

The first and most glaring is that throughout the entire discussion, neither Shields nor Brooks analyzes or even so much as mentions the merits of the new strategy. Seriously. They don’t say a word about what would happen, or wouldn’t happen, or what it would entail, or wouldn’t, or whether it’s an improvement, or not. Nothing. Bush’s announcement is discussed purely in terms of horserace politics — how it appears, and and how other political actors react to it.

Second, Brooks and Shields agree that this is a substantial change in Bush’s stance — but neither say why we should think that. Remember, the Bush administration has been playing hide-and-seek on this issue for seven years now. In the campaign, Bush said climate change is a serious problem and he’d regulate CO2 as a pollutant. Then he rescinded that and said we don’t know if human beings cause it. He would say one thing, his science advisor would say another, the EPA administrator would say another, a careful dance depending on the audience. One day we’d hear that a strong EPA report on climate change “came from the bureaucracy,” the next we’d hear that the administration had done more than any country in the world to fight climate change. Point is, Bush has consistently given exactly as much ground as he has to, tossing out flares this way and that to distract attention. The one unifying theme in this administration’s position toward climate change is that they don’t do anything substantial about it.

So I ask you, why should we believe that this — a redundant series of international meetings lasting almost two years, with no targets or enforcement mechanisms — is any different? Why should we not learn from history? Do Brooks and Shields think we’re stupid? Are they stupid?

Note also that Brooks spins this into a way to bash Democrats, despite the fact that Democrats have been pushing this for years and are close to passing a whole series of bills to address it. And he says Bush has been “liberated by unpopularity.” We’re supposed to believe that Bush has wanted to address this all along, but he’s been constrained by the fact the he’s trying to stay popular? What goddamn sense does that make?

Feh. This is your establishment D.C. press corps, people. All that matters are appearances, and appearances are always, always favorable to Republicans and bad for Democrats, no matter the circumstances, no matter the substantial facts of the case, no matter what public opinion reflects. Barf.

(thanks LL)