by Victor Davis Hanson
NRO’s The Corner
The Cap-and-Trade Stampede
It was somewhere around 3-4 years ago that “global warming” suddenly morphed into “climate change” in vernacular speech. Soon previously antithetical events, from floods to draughts, forest fires to ice storms, record lows and unprecedented heat, windless days and violent gusts — hitherto known by our parents as “the weather” and “stuff happens” — suddenly became symptomatic of the horrible middle-class habits of burning carbon to go places and keep either warm or cool. One could not lose an argument, since on any given day something other than clear and 75 degrees was attributed to carbon footprints and global changes. When undetectable the problem was “insidious,” when a Southern California canyon went up in wildfires it was, “You see! We warned you!” — as if the newer “climate change” fulfilled some deep-seated psychological need in many in the media.
In the methodology of phrenology or astrology, any natural disaster was hyped in magnitude (the locus classicus was Obama’s claim in May 2007 that “10,000” had died (actual death toll: 12) in a tornado in Kansas (apparent proof, he further claimed, of what happens when Bush diverts the Kansas National Guard to Iraq and leaves the depopulated state short-handed while thousands perish).
I just spent a few days in the Sierra in May during freezing cold temperatures and snow; a week ago it was quite cool and raining in New York; each time I have passed through Phoenix this spring it seemed unseasonably cool; and just gave a talk on the Russian River and about froze. Meanwhile the grapes look about ten days behind due to unseasonably cool temperatures. Any empiricist would be worried, as Newsweek once was, about global cooling. Will the planet boil, if we slow down a bit, review the science and dissenting views, and consider the wisdom in a recession of allotting nearly a trillion dollars to changing our very way of life (while the Chinese absorb market share)?
As Inevitable as the Sun Rising . . .
By 2006 a once-pro-Bush press (that had earlier wished to piggyback on his popularity between 2001–2003) had turned on the president and offered four liberal critiques of Bush and his supporters: One, he had run continual deficits, and as a conservative was hypocritical in not balancing the budget; two, he had crafted an extensive “war on terror” that in aggregate eroded civil liberties; three, his rhetoric and unilateralism in Iraq and elsewhere had strained relations abroad, and made the world much more unsafe; and four, he had said little about a “culture of corruption” among Congressional Republicans.
Both parties are hypocritical and object to policies and methodologies when out of power that they often embrace when in office. But liberal-media silence is mind-boggling over Obama’s massive deficits (projected over ten years to outpace all the red-ink run up by all the presidents of the past); his embrace of Bush-era renditions, tribunals, wiretaps, intercepts, Predator attacks, and policies on Iraq and Afghanistan; the sudden confrontational mood of North Korea, Iran, Russia, and simmering contempt from Merkel, Sarkozy and some eastern Europeans; and Obama’s complete indifference to rampant corruption not only of tax-challenged cabinet nominees, but serial congressional offenders like Chris Dodd, John Murtha, Charles Rangel, etc.
An objective press might have warned us that the Obama deficits are simply unsustainable and quadruple Bush’s; that Obama has employed euphemism to disguise the fact that the Bush pedestrian war on terror apparently is now considered to have kept us safe after 9/11; that a firm but unfortunately sometimes insensitive America is less dangerous than an equivocating and therapeutic United States; and that corrupt but emboldened congressional Democrats apparently believe they are completely exempt from the sort of censure that once met their Republican counterparts.
As the world becomes more unsafe, as inflation will soon roar in, and as more Congressional scandals emerge as a result of trillions borrowed and spent recklessly without proper oversight, eventually public dissatisfaction will mount, and the press will, as they did in 2006, likewise turn on their hero.
And just as they claimed that they never were for the Iraq war that they once had chest-thumped, so too those in the media will insist they always were skeptical of Obama’s reckless deficits, his Cartesque foreign approach, and the “culture of corruption” that he failed to take on.
Who Knew They Weren’t Democrats, After All?
One of the strangest things about the Iranian tragedy is this spate of mea culpaconfessionals from columnists who for the last two years insisted that Bush’s decision not to talk to the thuggish Ahmadinejad — e.g., his sending terrorists into Lebanon to destroy democracy; trying to kill Americans in Iraq with lethal IEDs and assassinate Iraqi democrats; subsidies for rocketeers in Gaza; promising to exterminate Israel; violating U.N. non-proliferation accords; rounding up and eliminating journalists, minorities, and dissidents — was at best counterproductive, and at worst proof of his cowboyish know-nothingism.
Now they’ve had and gone through our callous realpolitik moment, in which we sat on the sidelines as thousands of brave reformers were silenced. Our administration worried that the internationalist Obama would not have his long-awaited chance to show his “this is our moment” post-nationalist stuff, in charming Ahmadinejad and a few theocrats to promise to kill and maim fewer people.
And as a result they seem to be “shocked” that 1) Iran is really not a democracy after all, and that, after 30 years, it still rigs elections, preselects candidates, and kills off opponents, confident that its thin veneer of voting fools Western elites; 2) does not much care whether we talk or not to its clerics, and whether we act nicely or badly toward them; 3) long ago figured that what little downside there was to getting the bomb was far outweighed by the upside (cf. the deference showed to Pakistan post-1998), and nothing was/is going to stop them.
©2009 Victor Davis Hanson