chuck grassleyChuck Grassley

In a Tuesday conference call with Iowa agricultural reporters, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) offered some state-of-the-art Republican doubletalk on climate change (maybe he read it in Glenn Beck’s book). This is worth reading in full, in part to admire the blithely inconsistent muddle of it all, but also in part to marvel at just how second-nature this line of dissembling has become. These talking points are echoed almost verbatim up and down the conservative food chain, all the way from bottom-feeders like Marc Morano to U.S. Senators. Unlike most Democrats, no conservative has to think on his feet about it, or craft his own careful line on it.

Senator … are you convinced greenhouse gas emissions cause climate change and are a threat to human health?

GRASSLEY: Well, I’d be foolish if I didn’t give — I’d be foolish if I didn’t give it some consideration because there’s a massive amount of scientists that feel that it does. But there’s also an increasing number of scientists that have doubt about it.

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And so, not being a scientist, I don’t know exactly where to say only those things that are really quantifiable, and temperature has risen. But the scientific aspect that I still reserving judgment on is the extent to which it’s manmade or natural.

And it’s reasonable, considering that there’s at least a natural factor in it, because historically, and you can go to the core drillings in the glaciers to get proof of this, that we’ve had decades and decades, and maybe even centuries of periods of time when there’s been a tremendous rise in temperature, and then a tremendous fall in temperature. And all you’ve got to do is look at the little ice age of the mid-last millennia as an example. And so we’ve got to single out what’s natural and what’s manmade before you can make policy.

Now, a lot of members of Congress and most environmentalists are — are absolutely convinced manmade is the — is the factor — chief factor here. But I — I want to, before I vote on it, be more conclusive in my judgment, and I haven’t reached that conclusion at this point.

But it’s enough to know that I think that even if it is manmade entirely, and so there’s justification for the legislation, you still have to deal with the reality factors that domestically there’s a very unlevel playing field between California and New York that benefit financially from it, and the Midwest and the Southeast United States that’s going to be hurt; and then the unlevel playing field if you don’t include India and China, an unlevel playing field with the United States versus those countries.

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And so — so we don’t want to lose all of our manufacturing to China. We’ve already lost a lot.

We — it’s better to have an international agreement and include China and India in it.

It’s a greatest hits parade:

  • I’m a reasonable guy, just not quite convinced.
  • The science is confusing … all those consarned numbers and charts! … we need more time to get it nailed down just right.
  • It’s liberals and environmentalists, not scientists, concerned about climate change.
  • In fact, climate legislation is a scheme by coastal liberals to take your money.
  • China India China India booga booga!

Individually the points are flimsy, but if you’re not paying close attention, the answer just slides by in a haze of aw-shucks blather and faux-erudition. What the average Iowan hears is “blah blah blah don’t let ’em take yer money!!! blah blah.”

This is why, as I’ve written before, I really think conservative legislators and pundits should be nailed down on this question. Do you believe there’s a threat or don’t you? And if you don’t, why don’t you trust the National Academy of Sciences or the multi-agency climate science review begun under Bush?

This sort of cornpone skepticism was tired years ago. It’s hard to believe they’re still getting away with it.

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