Memo to media: McCain doubletalks to woo conservatives and independents at the same time

To: Traditional Media
From: Climate Progress
Subject: Some questions for McCain’s big energy speech tomorrow

Summary: Don’t believe the McCain mantra that he is a straight talker. He is just an equal opportunity panderer who keeps counting on you to let him have it both ways.

To pander to independents, McCain says he wants to require a 70% cut in U.S. carbon dioxide emissions.

To pander to conservatives, he now says “I’ll call for lifting the federal moratorium for states that choose to permit exploration.”

[Questions for McCain: Did you know that even if the drilling you now support is incredibly successful and generates 800,000 barrels of oil a day many years from now, that would only not knock 2 cents a gallon off the price of gasoline! How can you sharply cut US fossil fuel emissions if you propose drilling for more fossil fuels?]

To pander to independents, McCain says he is for a cap-and-trade system to achieve his domestic CO2 emissions reductions.

But to pander to mandate-hating conservatives, he repeatedly denies that such a system is mandatory (see “McCain’s Double-Talk Express on Global Warming” and “John McCain is a compulsive doubletalker“). Just today he gave a true doublethink answer in his press conference:

QUESTION: The European Union has set mandatory targets on renewable energy. Is that something you would consider in a McCain administration? […]

MCCAIN: Sure. I believe in the cap-and-trade system, as you know. I would not at this time make those — impose a mandatory cap at this time. But I do believe that we have to establish targets for reductions of greenhouse gas emissions over time, and I think those can be met.

[Questions for McCain: Is your program voluntary or mandatory? If it is voluntary, then how is it any different from President Bush’s climate strategy? If it is mandatory, why do you keep saying it isn’t? Which voting group do you think you will turn off by admitting your plan is in fact mandatory?]

To pander to people who don’t understand oil markets, McCain proposes eliminating the federal gas tax, the same thing the Saudis propose (see “Saudis agree with McCain: Cut gasoline taxes!“).

[Question for McCain: Why won’t the oil companies and Saudis just raise oil prices by the amount we lower gasoline taxes, thereby further enriching themselves, as N. Gregory Mankiw, the former chair of President Bush’s Council of Economic Advisors, says, “What you learn in Economics 101 is that if producers can’t produce much more, when you cut the tax on that good, the tax is kept … by the suppliers and is not passed on to consumers“?]

To pander to people who don’t understand the basics of U.S. energy use (or because he himself doesn’t understand the basics of U.S. energy use), McCain wrote in the Financial Times, “nuclear energy is a critical way both to improve the quality of our air and to reduce our dependence on foreign energy sources.”

[Questions for McCain: How can nuclear power “reduce our dependence on foreign energy sources” when only 1.6% of electricty in 2006 came from oil. How can nuclear power “reduce our dependence on foreign energy sources” when we import the vast majority of the uranium we use, so it is an even bigger “foreign energy source” — and when President Bush recently signed a deal to import large amounts of uranium from Russia?]

To pander to French-loving Americans who can’t get enough of nuclear energy — [admittedly, not a very big demographic] — McCain keeps saying, “If France can produce 80% of its electricity with nuclear power, why can’t we?

[Question for McCain: Why would we throw tens of billions of dollars of government subsidies at a mature industry to build 500+ new nuclear power and five storage facilities the size of Yucca Mountain over the next four decades at a total cost of some $4 trillion?]

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8 Responses to Memo to media: McCain doubletalks to woo conservatives and independents at the same time

  1. Paul K says:

    Again the nuclear doublespeak. You claim it is at least a full wedge, but you sharply criticize anyone who favors it.

  2. hilzoy says:

    Any reason to go with doubletalk over the alternate interpretation, namely: he’s just clueless?

  3. Joe says:

    No doublespeak. It ain’t gonna be 80% of U.S. electricity — it is absurd for any serious contender for president to say that.

  4. Dennis says:

    If France can provide 100% of its citizens with health insurance, why can’t we?

  5. john says:


    We could — but at $4 trillion and four times as much radioactive waste floating around to why would we want to?

  6. David B. Benson says:

    john — Huh?

  7. hapa says:

    clean renewable physicians now!

  8. Mike says:

    The Double Talk Express rides again.
    You can’t call yourself a maverick and be in bed with mega-corporations.