At a fundraiser in San Francisco Wednesday evening, President Obama took direct, and unusually blunt, aim at a faction in the U.S. Congress that played a major role in upending his plan to pass sweeping clean energy and climate change legislation.
“There are climate change deniers in Congress and when the economy gets tough, sometimes environmental issues drop from people’s radar screens,” Obama told about 200 guests at the Pacific Heights residence of internet billionaire Marc Benioff, according to an official transcript. “But I don’t think there’s any doubt that unless we are able to move forward in a serious way on clean energy that we’re putting our children and our grandchildren at risk. So that’s not yet done.”
Pretty strong for the President, but everything is relative with Obama on climate these days (see Obama’s ‘climate eyas’ moment today: “Carbon pollution” is contributing to “climate change”). TPM puts it well:
Left unsaid here is that those climate change deniers are all Republicans. And, of course, his environment and energy agenda was scuttled by an alliance those climate change deniers forged with Democrats in fossil fuel states. For a third thing, it’s one thing to be so unvarnished at a tony Bay Area dinner party, and quite another to take that line on the campaign trail at major public rallies.
It’s not clear why Obama won’t make the partisan distinction here, when he has been willing to do so on, say, the GOP budget’s attack on Medicare.
But the remark was nonetheless unusual for a President who often avoids the frank language his sympathetic advocates use.
Or his unsympathetic advocates (see The failed presidency of Barack Obama, Part 2).
The Hill has more on Obama’s California swing:
Obama also talked climate during his appearance at Facebook’s Palo Alto headquarters earlier in the day, listing it among the challenges facing the nation.
“Internationally, we’re seeing the sorts of changes that we haven’t seen in a generation. We’ve got certain challenges like energy and climate change that no one nation can solve but we’re going to have to solve together,” Obama said. “And we don’t yet have all the institutions that are in place in order to do that.”
Still, it remains a good sign that the president is willing to be blunter on this subject. After all, it’s pretty clear that he will be running against a climate change denier — and the worst possible strategy would be denying the denial.
One final point: Most of the deniers in Congress aren’t really “climate change deniers” so much as “climate science deniers.” The clever ones fall of the playbook of saying the climate is changing — but then launch into a bunch of denier talking points about the cause and so on.