During the 2008 presidential campaign, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) called on the U.S. to urgently address climate change, proposing cap and trade legislation and presenting his policies as a break from the backwards views of the Bush administration, which was reluctant to acknowledge the dangers of manmade greenhouse gas emissions. From remarks he made in May 2008:
We stand warned by serious and credible scientists across the world that time is short and the dangers are great. The most relevant question now is whether our own government is equal to the challenge. … A cap-and-trade policy will send a signal that will be heard and welcomed all across the American economy. And the highest rewards will go to those who make the smartest, safest, most responsible choices.
Now that McCain isn’t fighting in the general election, however, he’s more than happy to tout the Republican line. He has turned on cap and trade legislation, calling it “cap and tax” and dubbing the American Clean Energy and Security part of a “far left” agenda.
Yesterday, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) was at the Center for American Progress Action Fund for a speech on “The Minority in Congress: Loyal Opposition or Deliberate Roadblock?” Afterward, ThinkProgress caught up with him and asked him about McCain’s flip flop. Hoyer expressed his disappointment that the senator hasn’t been able to rise above partisan loyalties and be a “statesman”:
HOYER: Well, I’m very disappointed in that and I’m surprised by it. I think Sen. McCain has an opportunity. As I referenced Sen. Edward Dirksen in the civil rights debates in the ’60s, had an opportunity — took an opportunity — to rise above simply party loyalty to assist in accomplishing national objectives. Clearly, Sen. McCain observed — both in health care and in energy — that national objectives needed to be accomplished. He has not been, however, unfortunately, particularly constructive in engaging with President Obama to accomplish those objectives. And, frankly, where he has differences, to discuss them constructively.
So, I’ve been disappointed and frankly, somewhat surprised, and I would hope that Sen. McCain would see his role as larger than simply the former presidential candidate of his party, but as someone who becomes a statesman in the objective of obtaining legislation and policies that will be good for our country.