As the popular European political thinkers at Abba explained in their award-winning 1974 treatise, Waterloo: “The history book on the shelf is always repeating itself.”
President Bush campaigned on a cap-and-trade system for electric utility CO2 emissions. He dumped that as fast as Brad Pitt dropped Jennifer Aniston. Now is McCain following suit?
Yesterday, McCain economic adviser Steve Forbes said:
I think cap and trade is going to go the way of some other things, as you may remember, when he came into office, Bill Clinton had a proposal of tax carbons and stuff like that. I don’t think those things are going to get very far as people start to examine the details of them.
I’m not sure people should simply dismiss this as mere talk from a conservative who doesn’t believe in global warming — remember, McCain’s administration would mostly be filled with conservatives who don’t believe in global warming (as noted in “No climate for old men: Why John McCain isn’t the candidate to stop global warming“).
This is part of a concerted effort by McCain and his campaign to reassure conservatives he’s not going to take strong action on climate, while hoping that moderates would
be fooled just like some Bush voters were in 2000 ignore all this talk, which itself is a core campaign strategy of doubletalk (see “Memo to media: McCain doubletalks to woo conservatives and independents at the same time“).
Consider the increasingly sorry history of McCain campaign pronouncements on climate and clean energy:
- In December, anti-wind McCain skipped a vote to extend tax credits for renewable energy, though advisers say he would have voted against it.
- In January, McCain first boarded his Double-Talk Express on Global Warming when he began to walk away from calling his cap-and-trade “mandatory” — “voluntary” climate action is of course the core of the Luntz/Bush do-nothing but sound-like-you-care strategy.
- In February, he repeated his failure to show up for a vote to extend tax credit for renewable energy (the only Senator to do so).
- In February, McCain repeated that “It’s not quote mandatory caps.”
- In March, his senior economic adviser, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, said McCain “might take [new CAFE standards] off the books.”
- April, McCain revealed cynicism, hypocrisy with call for summer gas-tax holiday, energy budget freeze. As I noted at the time, “the greatest threat to the success of a cap and trade system is that somebody might artificially limit the carbon price … because some weak-kneed President (or Congress) walks away from that price the first time the economy suffers a downturn. McCain would appear to be that weak-kneed Presidential hopeful.”
- In mid-May, McCain announced the details of his climate plan, which stunningly allowed “unlimited offests” (i.e. phony tons) in place of actual domestic emissions reductions, which is the same as “Rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.”
- In late May, he “announced he won’t even bother showing up to vote on his friend Joe Lieberman’s climate bill.”
- In June, he flipflopped on offshore oil drilling and even embraced “more traditional use of coal,” an embrace of higher greenhouse gas emissions that is Bush-lite, crude, and not sweet.
- In July, he released his “Jobs for America” plan with so little on energy efficiency that it suggests he would be Cheney’s third term!
- Again in July, National Review reported that cap and trade was “eradicated” from McCain campaign, according to comments from a “senior McCain official.”
- And now another senior economic adviser says cap and trade won’t “get far” under McCain.
It was Bush’s Vice President, Dick Cheney, who called Bush’s promised to regulate utility carbon emissions “a mistake” in March 2001, and Cheney is probably the main reason Bush walked away from his commitment.
So perhaps we should start listening to the presumptive conservative nominee and his advisers on climate and clean energy issues. After all, they would be running the government if McCain wins.