December 5, 2008

Will Obama’s Next ‘Betrayal’ Be of His Environmentalist Supporters?

Note: This column originally appeared at Pajamas Media Wednesday morning. I elaborated and updated here at BizzyBlog that same day.

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The President-elect is demonstrating that preservation — of his viability — is his first priority.

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It has been an interesting week in ObamaLand.

Let’s look around at some of the “hope and change” agents the president-elect has nominated thus far:

  • There’s Hillary Clinton, who voted for the Iraq War, as Secretary of State.
  • Obama wants Bush Defense Secretary Robert Gates to soldier on in the new administration. Gates supported the troop surge that Obama the senator and presidential candidate so stridently opposed — you know, the surge that led to victory in Iraq.
  • Then there’s Obama’s choice of Paul Volcker, whom the linked CNN story hilariously characterizes as “a Washington outsider,” to head up the new Economic Recovery Advisory Board. Though originally appointed as Federal Reserve Chairman by Jimmy Carter in 1979, Volcker is closely associated with Reaganomics. Volcker’s role in the early 1980s recovery consisted of returning the Fed to sound monetary policy and beating down the nearly ruinous inflation his predecessor and Carter had created. Volcker’s actions, along with Reagan’s income-tax cuts and indexing of tax brackets, were what brought the economy out from recession to a level of sustained growth that has not been seen since. He is thus inextricably linked to the policies of the president the hard left still despises even more than George W. Bush.

So, at least on the surface, there has been a sea change from Obama the campaigner to Obama the soon-to-be president. Can the president-elect’s apparent betrayal of his core supporters go beyond foreign policy, economics, and defense? Yes it can, right to its “religious” core: environmentalism. At this point, no one should be surprised if Obama’s other nominees signal that he will not, at least during a first term, attempt to enact radical measures relating to climate change.

That’s going to leave a mark.

But for all their professed solidarity with environmental radicals, the custodians of what I have since July called the POR Economy — Nancy Pelosi, Obama, and Harry Reid — must know that they cannot afford to drive the economy down any further without risking a brutal backlash. Any efforts at blaming Bush will likely be futile. As I showed last week, the POR Triumvirate and their party are primarily responsible for what has happened in the economy since June of this year. I also noted that if, as seems likely, the fourth quarter of 2008 shows negative growth, they will, because of their and their party’s current, past, and expected actions on energy, taxes, and bailouts, soon become the primary authors of a recession as the man on the street defines it: two consecutive quarters of negative growth.

In other words, they own it. Now they have to figure a way out of it.

The way out is certainly not, as Team Obama has already acknowledged, to immediately and punitively raise Social Security and other taxes on the wealthiest 5% of Americans for the purpose of handing out money to millions of others. It is not to re-impose just-lifted bans on offshore drilling and other oil and natural gas exploration. And finally, it is not to enact a greenhouse gas cap-and-trade system that Obama himself said during the primary season would “bankrupt” attempts at building new coal plants.

Obama will have an unexpected excuse if, as I expect (and hope), he abandons economy-crippling environmental aggressiveness in his first term. It is that the European Union has all but abandoned the radical climate-change agenda. It is a development that has been virtually ignored by traditional media outlets in the US. But it’s happening with a vengeance, and you don’t have to look very hard to find it. Vehement objections are coming from Germany, Poland, Italy, and other EU countries.

What’s more, world opinion is turning against green extremism. The most significant finding at the linked article is that only 27% of those polled in 11 countries (including the US) “wanted their governments to participate in Kyoto-style international agreements to reduce emissions.” This explains why, thank goodness if true, the related December 1-12 United Nations-sponsored talks taking place in Poland “probably won’t yield concrete results.”

And in case there’s thought of slouching into such a treaty, the Czech Republic’s Vaclav Klaus will be there to frequently and strenuously object. In wonderfully serendipitous timing, Klaus, who has stated that “Global Warming Alarmism is Unacceptable and Should be Confronted,” will assume the rotating presidency and, if necessary, the bully pulpit of the European Union in 2009.

The worldwide economic slowdown is causing a long overdue re-evaluation of global warming (if such warming even exists):

As the global financial crisis takes hold, perhaps people are starting to wonder whether the so-called precautionary principle, which would have us accept enormous new taxes in the guise of an emissions trading scheme and curtail economic growth, is justified, based on what we actually know about climate.

The “precautionary principle,” in essence, says the following: “Okay, maybe we’re not really, really sure that global warming is occurring. And even if it is, we’re not really, really sure that human activity is causing it. But shouldn’t we err on the safe side, thereby formulating and enforcing strict emissions limits, just in case?” Such an outlook, taken to the extreme, would close the door on any and all future human progress. World opinion, which Obama and leftists love to claim should hold so much sway, isn’t answering “No.” It’s screaming “Heck no!”

Will a President Obama and the people he nominates for the EPA, Interior, and Energy really want to go it alone and put our economy in a choke-hold, while the rest of the world, including top polluter China and India, continue to chug merrily along? I doubt it, at least not while the economy is where it is. But watch out if the economy recovers, or if there is a second Obama term.

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