Climate Silence Lives: White House Insists Mayors’ Discussion Of Climate Change Occur ‘Behind Closed Doors’

The White House continues its fatally counterproductive strategy of promoting climate silence.

Reuters reports this remarkable story:

The White House asked that a discussion about climate change at the mayors’ meeting on Thursday take place behind closed doors, frustrating some participants, even as hot button topics from immigration to gun control got public airings.

“This should be discussed openly,” said Jim Brainard, the Republican mayor of Carmel, Indiana, who co-chaired the climate panel.

White House liaison for climate change Heather Zichal led the discussion, but declined to comment on why the meeting was closed.

While one academic political scientist seems to think Obama’s climate silence is not significant, real-world politicians know the President is the only person who can single-handedly change the media coverage and public conversation — and the national agenda:

We are looking for leadership from the president in detailing to the American people the magnitude of this issue,” [Seattle Mayor Michael] McGinn said after the meeting with about two dozen peers….

“There is a lot of call for the president to use his ‘bully pulpit’ and explain the consequences here,” said Brainard.

Hear! Hear! Or, rather, Speak! Speak! and Act! Act!

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11 Responses to Climate Silence Lives: White House Insists Mayors’ Discussion Of Climate Change Occur ‘Behind Closed Doors’

  1. Artful Dodger says:

    Brought to you by Chief of Staff Mizaru, Press Secretary Kikazaru, and President Iwazaru. :(

  2. fj says:

    It is long overdue that Obama focus on this crisis with extreme urgency and undivided attention and establish a framework where complete transparency is not an issue.

  3. fj says:

    Obama mutost seek out the best information to move this process forward.

    He must understand that those surrounding him and normally trust are not likely to provide all that he must know.

  4. M Tucker says:

    “The White House asked that a discussion about climate change at the mayors’ meeting on Thursday take place behind closed doors…”

    With Ol’ Obama we have hardly any outrage. Again he is strengthening my feeling that he is a President without any personal vision on this vitally important subject. Just another issue that can be left for later…perhaps when he is deep into the lame duck phase of his second term…impotently speaking on a subject he has been loath to mention. No shred of a care for his children’s future. No shred of a care for any future grandchildren he and Michelle might have. No shred of a care for any American’s future or anyone else in the world.

    What if this had been the message from a Romney White House? I wonder how different the response would be.

  5. Daniel Coffey says:

    Somehow, it seems President Obama, no matter what he does, he is attacked for failing someone somewhere.

    What is wrong with mayors having a candid conversations and being allowed to learn a thing or two without the public looking over their shoulders? It seems strange that everything must be utterly public, if not utterly embarrassing. What if they don’t know anything about the greenhouse effect? Maybe they have not read the recent draft US Climate Assessment – a mere 1146 pages long. Please, give these people a break and allow them to get an understanding of what is happening without holding them up to ridicule by their enemies.

    OK, how many people here have attended a city council meeting or sought to inform a mayor about global warming? I can tell you from experience it is not easy.

  6. Daniel Coffey says:

    I think Joe Romm is great, but don’t tell him.

  7. Gillian says:

    Thanks Joe, your exhortation “Hear! Hear! Or, rather, Speak! Speak! and Act! Act!” reminds me of Australia’s revamped bushfire warning system. Fire alerts now have three levels:

    Advice: A fire has started, no immediate danger. Stay up to date.

    Watch and act: Heightened level of threat, start taking action to protect your family.

    Emergency: You may be in danger and may need to take action immediately, any delay puts your life at risk.

    These three levels apply to fires that are burning. They are supported by the Fire Danger Ratings which warn of the liklihood of fires breaking out and use six levels ranging from Low/Moderate to Catastrophic. The ‘Catastrophic’ level is new – it’s a sad example of how humans adapt to climate change.

    In terms of alerts, I think the climate system is already at the Emergency stage, but I think your “Speak! Speak! and Act! Act!” is like the ‘Watch and Act’ level for fires – it’s nicely specific about what to do.

  8. Lewis Cleverdon says:

    Compare this secrecy with what the president said publicly to the Governors’ Climate Summit back in Nov 2008, AFTER he’d been elected and before his flip in March 2009. His speech to the Governors was not only public, it was an adamant, detailed and inspiring call for action.

    Yet in March 2009
    – he reneged on the US signature of the UNFCCC and dumped its 1990 emissions baseline in favour of Bush’s unilateral 2005 baseline, (thereby signalling to govts worldwide that extant US climate policy would continue)
    – he had the big green NGOs covertly instructed to stop talking about climate,
    – and he began the removal of any encouragment of demand for climate action from his statements, in favour of blatantly obstructive actions and discouraging lip-service. I note that his innuguration speech echoed the discouragement in his recent press response, in that it both acknowledged the deniers of AGW and falsely framed the issue as one affecting our children and descendants, as well as emphasizing the ‘difficulties’ of the transition to renewable energy supply.

    I’m puzzled by the continued widespread assumption that Obama actually wants action on climate, as I’ve seen no evidence of it in the four years of his first term, nor since his re-election is settled. By contrast, there have been clear indications of concern over liquid fuels security, such as the 2025 CAFE standards, the drilling expansion and the fracking boom, but these shouldn’t be mistaken for climate action.

    That he is fully informed, by Holdren, Chu, the Joint Chiefs, the CIA, and many others of the existential nature of the climate threat is beyond question. Moreover, it is also beyond question that he has ample public support (~80%) for leading forcefully on the issue and raising it to a pivotal wedge effect for retaking the House in 2014, and thereby passing conmensurate legislation and ratifying the forthcoming UN treaty. (That the public support has long been ample is confirmed by his raising of Gun Control, with ~50% vitriolic opposition, to oust climate from its 3rd place public policy priority).

    Instead, we have a little tepid lip-service, the bare minimum to allow his apologists to claim he remains involved but powerless, and to divert nearly all discussion from just what exactly is the climate policy that Obama adopted from Bush ?

    Beside the likes of Skocpol trying to blame NGOs for the failure of the Senate Climate Bill – when Obama’s well documented derailing of it is a matter of public record (including here on CP) we now even have apologists starting to claim that we shouldn’t criticize Obama for fear of cutting the chance of a democrat winning the 2016 election (and maybe getting some action in a second term, by 2024 . . ).

    So what empowers Obama’s continued grip on so many progressives, and gags them so effectively from making the furious criticism and protest he deserves ? Maybe it’s time to ask whether, if he were a weasel-faced white-skinned democrat president, that self-censorship would have endured so long ?



  9. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    You see the beauty of Plan Obama. To have a creature of the political system, recruited at university, employed and promoted and financed through his career by the money power that rules the USA, but who can plausibly pose as the agent of ‘Change’, while having no intention of changing anything vital to the interests of his ‘patrons ‘(to put it politely). After the debacle of the Bush Presidency the public rancour had to be reduced, but by subtle methods, not harsh repression. That’s there, of course, waiting, in the form of the militarised police, the plethora of ‘anti-terrorism’ laws, domestic drones, heightened surveillance, and it has been turned on certain groups, like Moslems, for years, to fine-tune its methods. The evidence of four years is there. Old hands like Chomsky and Nader weren’t taken in-why should anyone else?

  10. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Fair enough, but why make the silence mandatory? What happened to ‘Free Speech’ and robust discourse, allegedly two of the jewels of ‘Western Civilization’?

  11. Belgrave says:

    I do think it’s understandable that this meeting is in private. Many of those mayors will be republicans who, while accepting the reality of climate change, are looking over their shoulders at rabid teapartiers in their own local party.

    Full-blooded, public acceptance of the need for immediate action could spell political death and their replacement by an imbecile, hard-core denialist.

    I just hope that these meetings don’t remain private but that they, very soon, feel able to “come out”.