So, rumor‘s in the air about a new Bush climate policy. As Bart says, this is no doubt an authorized leak and, like everything the Bush administration does, done with politics in mind.
I imagine Rove sees the Gore cloud gathering on the horizon and wants to blow it away with some hot air before it gets too big.
How? By stealing Gore’s signature issue. It’s exactly what Turdblossom did in the 2000 election: Bush’s promise to regulate CO2 was nothing but a successful bid to take the issue off the table, to dilute media and voter attention (same with "compassionate conservatism"). It immunized Bush.
Now Rove is trying to immunize the party, by changing its stance on global warming from "No!" to "blah blah blah." Voters understand No, and on an issue like this they’ll come to see it as obstructionist. But they don’t really follow the blah blah blah. They’ll get the impression that both parties are addressing the issue; then it’s six of one half dozen the other.
Will it work? Let’s just say the last six years have encouraged me never to underestimate the charlatans or overestimate the voting public.
Now, let’s turn to prediction. If it’s true that Bush will announce a big climate plan, here’s what I expect will be in it, from most to least likely:
- Subsidies out the ying-yang, mainly for ethanol, nuclear, and clean coal/sequestration.
- Much talk of tech-sharing with developing nations, in the vein of the Asia-Pacific pact, as cover for favorable trade deals.
- A concession that global warming is taking place coupled with the willfully ignorant claim that we don’t know whether it’s human-caused or natural.
- The phrase "safe, clean nuclear power," with a bogus "zero greenhouse emissions" claim thrown in.
- Big talk about flex-fuel cars, perhaps with some weakish regulations and a symbolic gesture — say, shifting some portion of the federal fleet to hybrids by 2106.
- A nod to hybrids, with some research subsidies for batteries.
- A few pennies to solar, wind, hydro, and geothermal.
- A misleading statistic about "carbon intensity"; no mention of our total share of world emissions.
Would be a big deal
- A CO2 cap-and-trade program.
- Penalties, taxes, or even removal of subsidies for oil companies.
- Serious new across-the-board energy-efficiency standards.
- A more-than-symbolic push for plug-in hybrids.
Will never happen
- The best policy of all: a carbon tax.
Fun drinking game!
Every time Bush says the word "technology" or "technologies," take a shot. Be sure to use a designated driver.
(PS, if Bush had done this earlier he might have saved Tony Blair’s ass. But that’s never really been a priority, has it?)