Oversimplifying Bob Inglis' Loss
As Maclean's -- one of Canada's news outlets -- reports on the happenings at the annual Manning Network Conference, which is supposed to be a "gathering of conservatives" but instead looks to be a liberal love-in, there appears to be some oversimplying of history:
A core bit of message discipline for the Harper Conservatives is to denounce the notion of a carbon tax at every opportunity. But Bob Inglis -- a six-term, staunchly conservative Republican congressman from South Carolina, who was pushed out by the Tea Party in 2010 for asserting that climate change is real and demands action -- came to the Manning conference to tell Canadian Tories they're wrong, and if a market-based solutions [sic] like a carbon tax are not adopted, anti-market regulations will be.
First of all, the "Harper Conservatives" -- and the latter descriptive is at best applied loosely to the former -- have been all over the map regarding a carbon tax. Technically, they have brought in effective carbon taxation at the federal level via their regulations aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. If it walks like a carbon tax and talks like a carbon tax, it is a carbon tax.
In mid-December 2014, Alberta Oil Magazine reported on how "Stephen Harper changes his tune on carbon pricing":
For years, whenever it came to the question of putting a price on carbon Prime Minister Stephen Harper has always resorted to a familiar refrain: His government would never implement a 'job-killing carbon tax.' But in a recent year-end interview with CBC [the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation], Harper strayed conspicuously off-message. 'I think it's a model on which you could go ... on which you could go broader,' he said of Alberta's existing carbon levy. 'That's a model that's available. But you know, as I say, we're very open to see[ing] progress on this on a continental basis.'
That doesn't sound like denouncing carbon taxation at every opportunity.
And Bob Inglis wasn't pushed out by the Tea Party just because of his position on climate change, even though that is the talking point at ThinkProgress and ClimateWire -- neither source of which is reasonably considered an objective barometer on conservative politics.
But even Mother Jones -- another left-of-center outlet -- acknowledges there was much more behind Inglis' ouster than just his position on climate change. In fact, Inglis' climate change position may have been the least of the Tea Party's concerns:
But this year, as Inglis faced a challenge from tea party-backed Republican candidates claiming Inglis wasn't sufficiently conservative, these donors hadn't ponied up. Inglis' task: Get them back on the team. 'They were upset with me,' Inglis recalls. 'They are all Glenn Beck watchers.' About 90 minutes into the meeting, as he remembers it, 'They say, 'Bob, what don't you get? Barack Obama is a socialist, communist Marxist who wants to destroy the American economy so he can take over as dictator. Health care is part of that. And he wants to open up the Mexican border and turn [the US] into a Muslim nation.'' Inglis didn't know how to respond ...
Inglis, who served six years in Congress during the 1990s as a conservative firebrand before being reelected to the House in 2004, had also ticked off right-wingers in the state's 4th Congressional District by urging tea-party activists to 'turn Glenn Beck off' and by calling on Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) to apologize for shouting 'You lie!' at Obama during the president's State of the Union address. For this, Inglis, who boasts (literally) a 93 percent lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union, received the wrath of the tea party, losing to [Trey] Gowdy 71 to 29 percent.
Inglis was also on record in the Mother Jones article as "noting that Republican leaders are pushing rhetoric tainted with racism" and "that conservative activists are dabbling in anti-Semitic conspiracy theory nonsense." Calling the party leadership and base anti-Semitic racists seems like a guaranteed recipe for removal.
When asked why he would not refer to Barack Obama as a socialist, Inglis gave this reply: "I refused to use the word because I have this view that the Ninth Commandment must mean something. I remember one year Bill Clinton -- the guy I was out to get [when serving on the House judiciary committee in the 1990s] -- at the National Prayer Breakfast said something that was one of the most profound things I've ever heard from anybody at a gathering like that. He said, 'The most violated commandment in Washington, DC' -- everybody leaned in; do tell, Mr. President --'is, 'Thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor.'' I thought, 'He's right. That is the most violated commandment in Washington.'"
Citing Bill "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky" Clinton as a source for upholding the Ninth Commandment could also explain some of the primary difficulties Inglis experienced. But if the journalists want to believe it was only about climate change, so be it.