August 12, 2008
Another Bipartisan BetrayalBy Christopher Chantrill
In the week that the last of the climate-change "hockey stick" finally disappeared into Steve McIntyre's wood-chipper, it makes complete sense that a gang of five Republican United States Senators would form a cabal with five Democratic senators to betray the Republican base on energy. It makes sense that they'd hand Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) a get-out-of-jail card on oil drilling that is short on drilling and long on alternative energy subsidies. And it makes complete sense that they would be completely shocked when Mr. Conservative, Rush Limbaugh, went ballistic on them.
Actually, Rush didn't go ballistic. He seemed to feel, as all of us must feel, a kind of numbness. That is what usually happens when you have been betrayed: a deadening numbness.
It's a pity that our Republican Senators don't act more like Radames, the hero of Verdi's Aïda. When he realizes that he's betrayed Egypt by revealing vital military secrets to the Ethiopians he just hands himself over to the Egyptian G-men, singing, at the top of his voice, that he has dishonored himself.
In due course, the dishonored Radames submits humbly to the verdict of ancient Egyptian law: to die by asphyxiation in the Tomb of the Unknown Traitor.
What happened to good old-fashioned American honor, senators?
How could they do it?
Like Radames, I doubt if they realized what they were doing. In Radames' case, he was too consumed with his obsession for the lovely Aïda to think clearly about public policy. This is not the first time that such a thing has happened, and it won't be the last, as former Senator John Edwards can testify.
No, I suspect that they were just doing what any decent politician does instinctively. They were acting to save their political skins.
Whatever we stalwarts in the conservative base may think, your average senator understands that he can't afford to get too far away from the "consensus" position on energy, environment, and global warming.
It doesn't matter to a United States Senator that Steve McIntyre has finally got hold of the Supplementary Information in that well-known climate-change paper Wahl and Amman (2007), after a year of demanding it. It doesn't matter that he has now analyzed the methodology that Caspar Amman used to validate the tree-ring temperature proxy series that formed the shaft of the hockey stick. And it doesn't matter that Amman's methodology seems to amount to the Texas Sharpshooter fallacy, where you fire a bunch of shots at the side of a barn and then decide where to draw the target.
You and I, committed members of the climate denial community, understand that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change chaps are now in a sticky situation, and that their confident claims that the science is settled on global warming are going to come in for some significant revision in the months and years ahead.
But our elected solons live in a different reality. They cannot take out long-term speculative positions on climate science. They must deal in the spot market of today's MSM "consensus" position. They can lean a little one way or another. But if they stray too far from the "conventional wisdom" they risk being made into a laughingstock by the political-activist community. They risk the obloquy that attaches to Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK).
Republican senators are worried about political risks beyond energy and global warming, of course. They are bound to be worried by the gloating of lefty Greg Anrig In the Washington Post. It's all over for conservatives, Anrig sneered in the August 4 edition.
You can just look at Hurricane Katrina, Anrig writes, to see just how badly conservatives failed to deliver.
Any elected politician can see which way the wind blows on all this. The prudent thing to do is to hedge your bets.
But conservatives should take courage, even in the numbness of betrayal. Ultimately the senatorial tap-dancing and the WaPo gloating don't matter. It is the slow, careful analysis of people like Steve McIntyre and the underlying value of conservative ideas that matter. If they are right, then they will probably prevail over the long haul. If they are wrong, then they deserve to fail and be forgotten.
As for Radames, don't forget that when he was thrown into the sealed tomb he quickly found that he wasn't going to die alone in there. The lovely Aïda had slipped into the tomb unobserved during his trial. No need to feel sorry for him.
As for the Faithless Five--Senators Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), John Thune (R-SD), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), and Bob Corker (R-TN)--I suppose we'll forgive them. According to Arthur C. Brooks, you have to be "very liberal" to be really angry these days.