Saturday, May 27, 2006

Climate Change as a 2008 Election Issue?

We know that no Presidential candidate in 2008 will campaign on raising U.S gasoline taxes. While such a tax would induce green innovation, it wouldn't play well outside of Cambridge, MA. Perhaps, some candidates will claim that to insure our "national security" we need a strong defense and the development of alternate fuels and infrastructure investments to protect our coasts from future consequences of climate change.

I could imagine that democrats will try to claim that Republicans are beholden to oil interests and claim that the incumbents in power have made "bad decisions from the social good perspective" because they have been captured by this powerful special interest group.

Just to challenge the conventional wisdom, here is what Bjorn Lomborg's recent group had to say:

"Climate change, predicted by the UN to change the way most people live over the next 100 years, is the least important of the world's immediate problems, says a group of economists, including three Nobel prize winners, who were asked to prioritise how money should be spent on helping the world's poor.

The team of six American and two other economists, brought together by controversial environmentalist Bjorn Lomborg, said it was not worth spending money on climate change because the effects were expected to be far in the future. They recommended that people became rich first and that money should be spent on HIV/Aids, water and free trade.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/aids/story/0,,1331982,00.html"

What would Al Gore have to say to these folks? He has certainly enjoyed some good media coverage the last couple of days?

May 28, 2006
Political Memo
Back in the Limelight, Gore Insists He's Over Politics
By ADAM NAGOURNEY

WASHINGTON, May 27 — "I wanted it, and it was not to be," said Al Gore, the former vice president and two-time presidential candidate. "I am not pursuing it. I have been there, and I have done that."

Mr. Gore was on the telephone from New York, taking a break from promoting his book and documentary about global warming, to dismiss — with a combination of weariness and wariness, but with something approaching finality — speculation that his rising profile should be interpreted as the first stirrings of another bid for the White House.

"Why should I run for office?" Mr. Gore asked, the impatience evident in his voice. "I have no interest in running for office. I have run for office. I have run four national campaigns. I have found other ways to serve my country, and I am enjoying them."

After a period in which he had worn out his welcome in some quarters, these have been days of some vindication for Mr. Gore, the Tennessee Democrat who likes to introduce himself as "the man who used to be the next president of the United States," a melancholy reference to his defeat — a characterization he might be inclined to dispute — by President Bush in 2000.

The warnings of global warming that led former President George Bush to mock Mr. Gore as "Ozone Man" in 1992 hardly seem far-fetched in these days of melting ice caps and toasty winters. Mr. Gore's tough condemnation of the war in Iraq, once derided by the White House as evidence of Mr. Gore's extremism, seems positively mainstream today.

He and his documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth," have been celebrated from Cannes to Hollywood — "Even Bill O'Reilly liked it!" Mr. Gore said — as he has become the toast of the Democratic left and the blogosphere.

With some Democrats recoiling at the prospect of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton as their party's nominee, there is entirely plausible speculation of how Mr. Gore could beat her and capture the Democratic presidential nomination, should he choose to do that.

Yet if Mr. Gore has any annoyance these days, it is at the suggestion that "An Inconvenient Truth" was nothing more than the calculated first stirrings of a campaign for president by a man who has spent most of his life practicing politics and is no stranger to its manipulations and machinations. "I am not trying to feed that or stimulate that," he said.

When Mr. Gore started promoting the movie, he methodically sought out environmental reporters rather than political reporters, an aide said, to head off the very kind of is-he-running stories that his friends insist offended him, even as they helped draw attention to his movie.

What Mr. Gore wanted to talk about in a call from New York the other night, as he waited for his daughter to arrive with his grandchildren, was the threat facing Planet Earth. "My whole objective is to change the mind of the American public so all the presidential candidates in both parties will want to talk about global warming," he said.

But in a feisty and frequently argumentative telephone conversation, Mr. Gore brimmed with disdain at the state of American politics and political journalism, urging his interviewer to quit a career of covering politics to turn to matters of real consequence.

"Stop covering politics; cover the climate crisis. It is not too late!" he said, with a boom of laughter.

"Have you read my book?" he asked a moment later. "Have you seen the movie?" Mr. Gore cluck-clucked at the "not yet but I will" response.

To hear Mr. Gore talk about the state of politics and journalism today — this from a man who has a history in both professions — it is hard to imagine him ever running for office again. Politics, he said, has become a game of meaningless, mindless battles, conducted by unscrupulous methods and people, designed to transform even the most serious policy debates into sport.

His documentary, he said, was trying to break through that.

"We need to shift gears in corporate America and in our politics and in our economy and in our culture," he said. "Most of all, political scribes have to take off their cynical lenses through which they view every moral challenge as political spin."

"It's getting a really good response," Mr. Gore said of the movie. "And people see it outside of a partisan context. Now, I know you will not see anything outside of the political context."

He laughed.

Mr. Gore's statement that he had no interest in running in 2008, if not the kind of ironclad assurance politicians and the journalists who cover them tend to demand, came about as close to approaching finality as any he has made.

It is not that Mr. Gore does not want to be president, as several of his friends said. When asked whether he thought he would have more influence fighting global warming in the White House or making movies, he responded instantly.

"I am under no illusions," he said. "There's no position anywhere equal to the president of the United States in terms of one's ability to influence policy."

Yet Mr. Gore has told friends that as much as he wants to be president, his pride, image and legacy — think the defining first clause in his eventual biography — could not absorb another race in which he lost again, or really lost. What that means is that Mr. Gore would only run, his associates said, if he was absolutely confident that he could win.

Mr. Gore is nothing if not a realist, not lured by this interlude in which he is more Democratic hero than goat, his friends said.

If Mr. Gore, who is 58, wanted to run, he would have no trouble enlisting the resources. Several analysts said Mr. Gore could bide his time before entering the race, confident that the power of the Internet would permit him to raise the kind of money almost instantly that once would have taken months of travel.

Several of his advisers said that if asked, they would join a Gore campaign for president, and his support from groups like MoveOn.org and with many bloggers is hardly incidental.

The praise from the left suggests there is a ready-made base just waiting for him. "Our members are tremendously excited about him because at a time when politics is dominated by tactical sound-bite politics, here is someone who is a statesman who speaks with intelligence about much bigger issues," said Eli Pariser, executive director of MoveOn.org, the liberal advocacy group that has sponsored a series of speeches by Mr. Gore.

Mr. Pariser's remarks also suggest that Mr. Gore had managed to shed much of his political baggage from 2000, when he was derided precisely for being a sound-bite candidate, captive of his consultants.

In that campaign, Mr. Gore rarely, if ever, talked about global warming, notwithstanding the fact that he had written a book on the subject, "Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit," published in 1992.

And to Mr. Gore's benefit, the concern among some Democrats about the state of their field is certainly acute. The speculation about a Gore presidential bid was echoed this week by speculation, albeit softer, about the presidential ambitions of another Democrat, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, who says he has no interest in running this time.

Still, the man who used to be the next president of the United States says he wants the world to know that he wants none of that.

"That was not to be," Mr. Gore said.

3 comments :

Charlie said...

Interestingly, one of the Republican contenders for the White House in 2008 has been talking about climate change. Chuck Hagel introduced legislation on the matter last year.

Anonymous said...

Gore wont get the democratic nomination if he runs but he can make a huge difference just doing what he's doing now. The lecture circuit, films and raising public awareness.

Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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