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What should Obama’s message be? His current one certainly makes no sense.

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"What should Obama’s message be? His current one certainly makes no sense."

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Obama has been saying (erroneously) for two years now that Republicans have good policy ideas for creating jobs, whereas Republicans have been saying (erroneously) for two years that Obama has job-killing policies.  Is it any wonder he had a shellacking in the 2010 election?

This is the worst White House in decades at communications, as one journalist who has covered five presidents told me recently.  Of course, you don’t have to have been around that long to see how dreadful their messaging is [see "Can Obama deliver health and energy security with a half (assed) message?") and links below].

Indeed, WH communications is so bad, I’m starting a series on the subject, since they have literally become a textbook of what not to do.  If they can’t learn from their own mistakes, at least others can — and certainly climate hawks will have to be at the top of their game in the next two years, when the science (and the EPA) goes on trial in Congress and probably during the presidential election.

Please send me any examples you see of bad White House messaging, especially on energy and the environment, but also more broadly.  And I’d be very interested in your thoughts on what Obama’s message should be.

lucy-2.jpgThe first job of the President, the most powerful person in the free world, is to project strength.  Most voters can’t adjudicate policy issues on the basis of the status quo media coverage and the handful of sound bites they hear, particularly since independents and swing voters tend to think politicians from both parties are just lying all the time.  But people can discern strength and weakness — and they invariably punish the latter quality in those they elect to the highest office.

I wouldn’t go quite as far as James Carville, who unapologetically said, “if Hillary gave him one of her balls, they’d both have two.”  But Obama increasingly sounds like Charlie Brown, I’m afraid. Here’s the AP’s framing of his Thanksgiving morning radio address, headlined, “Obama calls for bipartisanship to fix economy“:

In yet another acknowledgment of Democrats’ recent drubbing and the tectonic political shift in Washington, President Obama used much of his Thanksgiving morning radio address to call for bipartisanship in tackling the country’s persistent economic ails.

What is the definition of insanity?  Obama has been calling for bipartisanship for two  years now.  Memo to White House:  Nobody is listening!

In the first year, I thought it was a clever strategy to set the Republicans up in 2012 as the obstructionists or “The Party of No.”  But that required a pivot that never came.  Now Obama just seems beyond naive and wimpy, a frame that the media amplifies:

Just a day after expressing relief that he had prevented another November “shellacking” by sending two pardoned turkeys to live out their days at the Mount Vernon home of George Washington, the nation’s 44th president argued that neither party could achieve meaningful economic change on its own.

Citing the urgency to “accelerate this recovery,” Obama said: “But we won’t do it as one political party. We’ve got to do it as one people. And, in the coming weeks and months, I hope we can work together, Democrats and Republicans and independents alike, to make progress on these and other issues.”

The president mentioned a White House meeting next week with congressional leaders from both parties, a get-together delayed once and intended, he said, to yield “a real and honest discussion.”

The Republicans aren’t even like Lucy van Pelt in Peanuts anymore.  Yes, in the first year they pretended that they would let Charlie Brown Obama kick the bipartisan football, only to take it away at the last minute over and over again.

But now they are just open about their strategy of refusing to let anyone play with their football.  Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell said last month, “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

And so their message remains, as AP reports:

Republicans chose incoming Georgia Rep. Austin Scott to deliver their radio address, another signal that their party’s House leadership is according much attention to the vanguard of the chamber’s 85 new GOP lawmakers, whose ranks include tea party supporters and others who are making deep spending cuts a priority. Scott said voters’ fundamental message to Washington is clear: “Listen up, stop the job-killing policies, stop the runaway spending and focus on getting our country back on track.”

Obama has been saying (erroneously) for two years now that Republicans have good policy ideas for creating jobs, whereas Republicans have been saying (erroneously) for two years that Obama has job-killing policies.  Is it any wonder he had a shellacking?

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68 Responses to What should Obama’s message be? His current one certainly makes no sense.

  1. William Schubert says:

    He should tell them he is raising the taxes back to WWII levels, to pay for the stupid wars, and to help the country get back on their feet, and the only ways they have of avoiding paying the full tax rate is to hire people IN AMERICA. And then he should put a huge tariff on imports so that any corporation who thinks they can leave to avoid the taxes and still sell things in the USA will have another thing coming.

  2. Mike Roddy says:

    On a personal level, I don’t think Obama realizes just how deeply cynical the Repubican Party is. Maybe when he was in the Senate he got acquainted with a few who managed to charm him a bit, whether it was smarmy Southerners or full time lobbyists/Senators like Kyl and Thune.

    The reality is kind of obvious. The Republican Party leaders think that they are smarter and more macho if they are the ones who strictly focus on money and power. We all knew them in high school- guys like Mitch McConnell and Tom Pawlenty, who could never find a girlfriend and spent the rest of their lives punishing the world for it.

    Obama needs to call out these losers for what they are- selfish whores, who have abandoned their own country. Americans haven’t been told that by the press, which is also bought, but this message will resonate.

  3. FishEagle says:

    I completely agree with the principle that there is no clear message going out to the public regarding climate change. I’m ultra conservative and I support conservative sites on the web. Whenever I raise the issue about pollution with conservatives I never find that people negate my sentiments when I express my concern that we are in deep trouble with all our natural resources. Everybody knows something needs to be done about our impact on the environment. The question is just how to do it. The cap-and-trade proposal not only tries to curb carbon emissions in developed countries, it also tries to develop non-developed countries. That’s already much too complicated. So what was that about a clear message? It’s not because people are too stupid to understand the intended benefits of cap-and-trade that the message is not sinking in with the general public. To the contrary, people are smart enough to realize that good intentions do not necessarily equate to the realization in practice, especially when they haven’t been thought through properly.

  4. Maybe that we should have a look at China now and then? China’s 2009 clean energy investments ($ 35 billion) were double those of USA, creating 2.7 million jobs: http://bit.ly/ChiDub

  5. FishEagle says:

    Oh, I forgot to add this to my last comment. If you silence views that do not agree with your own because you believe it will get the message across clearly, you are sadly mistaken. That’s where Obama finds himself now – completely out of touch with the electorate. My comments have been repeatedly deleted of this site simply because I don’t agree with the politics. For that reason I thoroughly enjoy it when people with such fascist tendencies get their ‘shellacking.’ My bad but I do get a lovely case of Shaudenfreude. You might think conservatives are so stupid that we don’t even know that we are securing our own demise if we ignore the hype about climate change. I don’t see it that way. Conservatives feel we having nothing left to lose because we know that cap-and-trade is not going to make any difference at all. The light may as well go out on the world without developing countries having given away every last cent of their wealth before it happens.

  6. paulm says:

    He should declare a state of emergency.

  7. The truth always works for me.

  8. John McCormick says:

    My wife and I were there at President Obama’s last huge rally in Northern VA just days before the election. We hundred thousand fans were ecstatic with his MESSAGING on change, hope, getting us involved.

    Today, my wife has given up on him. I am trying to find an explanation for his performance this past year while still giving him much credit for things he has changed that never get reported. But, they are not enough to hold the support he still has.

    Most of the outsourced manufacturing jobs are NOT COMING BACK to America without government intervention and support. He has to convince us that his job creation ideas are not driven only by his green state of mind. Rather, his actions have to be focused on the federal government creating US jobs by, among other means, buying US products that meet the energy efficiency codes already established.

    Some of us enjoyed the cash for clunkers campaign even if it benefited some foreign auto makers. Why can’t he launch a campaign called “dollars for dishwashers, motors, HVACs, clothes driers, refrigerators and freezers”, etc. purchased by residential and commercial customers. Federal, state and local govs can be primary purchasers.

    Re-establishing a US manufacturing base does not need a war mentality. It needs clear and determined plans targeting – initially – those cities that lost their economic base when the appliance and motor manufacturer relocated to Asia or South America.

    I know his closest economic advisers would likely not know what end of the hammer to grab but he has access to the energy efficiency brain trust in the NGO and private sector. They can throw him a rope if that is what he needs.

    But, he had better start pulling himself together and give me and us a reason to keep listening.

    John McCormick

  9. Mimikatz says:

    Obama is at a disadvantage because he’s laboring under 30 years of non-stop right-wing anti-government propaganda that has convinced people that government can’t solve problems, only the “private sector” can. This is, of course, demonstrably wrong, as history shows. Government is needed to solve problems that are big and require a collective solution (war, railroads, interstate highways, moon shots), and problems that ate not amenable to a market-based solution because they become too distorted when done for a profit motive, like war, disaster relief and health care.

    He needs to explain to the public that first, we have problems which we need to address collectively (although that is one of those works that has been branded as “communist” like community and commons) and which we can’t solve unless we understand them, namely climate change and economic stagnation due to income inequality and a bloated financial sector. He needs to take the GOP on directly for their denialism and selfishness and ally himself more openly with that part of business that really does get climate change and wants to work on solutions. He needs to explain that we are falling behind China in technology and even in bringing down emissions and that we will be a second-rate power if we don’t take a leadership role on this issue. He needs to stress that the atmosphere is a common resource of humankind that we have to take care of for future generatiosn, and that the threats to our planet from climate change are a much bigger problem than the deficit that everyone seems fixated on.

    He needs to give a few speeches in coastal areas like the mouths of Chesapeake Bay, Louisiana and Florida that will be hardest impacted by sea level rise and that are already feeling the impact, and where local officials understand that warming is a problem. He needs to capitalize on environmental problems and have a response ready for the next environmental disaster, whether hurricane, drought, flood, heat wave or really bad news from West Antarctica, that draws the connections for people, focusing on near-term issues like water shortages, disruptions of food supplies, and stormsurges in coastal areas that are happening and will increase in the next 10-20 years. He should enlist Arnold Schwarzenegger as an ambassador to the hinterlands on climate change. If there is anyone who can make climate a “masculine” issue it is Arnold.

    Above all, he needs to stop wanting to be loved, stop wanting the approval of the deeply cynical media and the even more cynical and pathological GOPers who want only to protect their own power and the power of their patrons like the Koch brothers and other extraction kings. He needs to make them “malefactors of great wealth” and cynical greedheads who are stealing our childrens’ future. And he has to be willing to lose if he really wants to be able to fight successfully.

  10. Dean says:

    I constantly try to fit together this cognitive dissonance: the apparent naivete we see now with the hardball and brilliant politics I saw during his campaign, from the days when everybody said that somebody with his lack of experience couldn’t possibly get the nomination, to his victory. The way in which he vanquished the Clinton’s during the nomination fight was brilliant politics – he completely took Bill out of the campaign such that he was hurting his wife’s cause. And I’ve read a bit about his hardball politics in getting to that point. Remember – he came out of Chicago. Community organizer or not, you don’t grow out of that with naivete.

    I keep wondering if he’s saving his fastball for after the new House gets in and does something really stupid while in power. Most people are sick of elections and politics from the campaign and are focusing on the holiday season, Black Friday, whatever, so maybe he deson’t want to start this fight when people are sick of politics. Public attention will return to politics with the new Congress. I don’t know that it’s smart to wait till then, but it’s all I can think of that makes sense.

  11. Leif says:

    China’s investment of $35 billion in the green economy, (http://bit.ly/ChiDub) is twice the US and has created 2.7 million jobs. Just imagine if the US invested $350 billion in the Green economy here, (just 1/2 of the US Military budget) and created 27 million green jobs right here!

  12. Leif says:

    President Obama needs to get some showmanship in his message as well. How about a speech standing someplace in the water that was the waters edge when he was a child with something obvious, (his pulpit?), representing the best estimate water level when our youth are my age, (70). Make the media stand in the water as well. “Fifty years ago you would have been standing on dry ground if I gave this speech then. Seventy years from now, above your belt, and seventy more you will be struggling to keep from drowning at this same spot. That is the future world we bequeath our youth…” (That is the low best estimate!)

    “We cannot mitigate some of these changes as we have built in massive climatic disruptions already but we can begin to mitigate the worst and we all, not just Americans but humanity the world over, will reap the benefits of our collective efforts….” etc.

  13. A Siegel says:

    examples of failed messaging:

    1. “clean coal” language and policies

    2. supporting oil drilling

    3. calling nuclear, oil drilling, natural gas somehow ‘clean energy’

    4. Not speaking from Oval Office re climate change report — allowing it to be a WH conference without the President or Vice President involved.

    5. Speaking indirectly re climate science rather than directly …

    6 … Etc …

  14. James Newberry says:

    The president should change his “message” by changing his policy from one of broad citizen betrayal to one of support for the working middle class. Right now, were see and hear too much pandering to plutocrats, global corporatists and corrupt banksters.

    For example, what were all those campaign statements about intractable problems with atomic fission and his abrupt switch to “clean and safe” nuclear power about? Is this blatant fraud due to his corporate and shadow banker friends? What was that about eliminating nuclear weapons, receiving a peace prize, and budgeting about $100 billion for nuclear weapons? He seems not only a hypocrite, but completely ignorant of the fact that nuclear power technology was invented for and is today the very basis of atomic weapons systems, an international security threat.

    What was that $14 billion transfer of wealth in credit and cash from public funds to private interests for the “bailout” (read corporate socialism) while credit for the working class is minimal, families are not being substantially assisted with that $75 billion program for refinancing and real unemployment remains at 10-20% while corporations hold $trillions?

    What was that about the need for more oil drilling, especially in our precious coastal waters, and then presiding over the biggest single ecological disaster in US history?

    He needs to get some people around him, as advisers, who have a basic understanding of how the world works for working people. Instead, he has chosen bought, biased, financial and corporate ideologue protectors of the wealthy (including Bowles and Simpson). Must we wait through years of damaging policy corruption before maybe acting on the basis of the already robust lessons of history (such as maintain FIRE firewalls, i.e. separate insurance, finance and securities trading)?

    The president could become a transformative force for good if he would abandon his pandering to the damaging right and establish an industrial reconstruction policy based on clean energy through common ownership. The age of fossil and fissile bombs and fuel materials should be hastened toward its inevitable end. Sustenance and common survival in the face of massive ecological damage and contamination should be of primary concern.

  15. john atcheson says:

    Obama has no message. He chases polls, while the Republicans shape them. Thus the country gets dragged further right with each passing month. Bi-partisanship is not a message. Poll chasing isn’t a message. It’s time to shape polls, not follow them. That requires the willingness to take risks and a mega message based on values, not individual policy initiatives.

    Obama should engage on a national debate about two things: the purpose of government, and who and what each party stands for.

    He should say, “The purpose of elections is to choose, and the choices have never been more starkly outlined. On one hand, the Republicans are the Party of corporate interests, the interests of the ultra rich and a government that is impotent in the face of special interests and incapable of helping the middle class and those in need. They are the Party of “No We can’t.” They talk about fiscal discipline, but run up massive debt on behalf of their corporate and rich buddies…

    On the other hand, the Democrats stand for a government capable of assuring a shared prosperity; capable of leveling the playing field so that small businesses can grow. Look at history — Democrats have stood for fiscal discipline, jobs, fairness, a clean environment. When Democrats have been in charge the country worked — and it worked for everybody. At the end or the day, the choice is simple — allow yourselves to be manipulated by fear, anger, hate and the things that make us less than we can be; or choose the course of brotherhood and shared prosperity. Choose to be the country our founders envisioned — stewards of a sustainable world that works for all citizens …

    Then he should show charts of deficits, jobs, economic growth etc under presidents since Carter. That says it all.

    Or words to that effect. The point is, since Reagan there has been a debate going on for the hearts and minds of the American people, and Republicans have been the only one showing up. They ran unopposed in the Mid-terms, while Democrats cowered from their accomplishments and their values.

    Of course, before they adopt this message, they will have to decide whether they want to play the corporate money game, or actually become the party of the people.

  16. Chris Winter says:

    FishEagle wrote (#5): “You might think conservatives are so stupid that we don’t even know that we are securing our own demise if we ignore the hype about climate change. I don’t see it that way.”

    I don’t see it that way either. If you ignore the hype about climate change, about airport security, about anything, that’s not being stupid.

    Where we part company is that, from my perspective, you take everything scientists say about climate change as hype. Have you ever used the term “alarmist”? I see conservative estimates of the cost of climate change mitigation as hype, and their incessant warnings that any such action will “destroy the economy” as blatant alarmism.

    What do you believe are the facts of climate change? If you say it’s not going to turn the U.S. Midwest into parched desert next year, or drown coastal cities the year after, I’d agree those are facts. But if you argue that climate change is never going to be a major problem, I’d say you’re flat wrong. Such opposite viewpoints eliminate the chance of productive discussion.

  17. Prokaryotes says:

    I think he waits for an event, such as katrina – which beside the record hurricane season 2010, did not occur.

    Let’s see what happens now at cancun …

  18. Bob Wallace says:

    There seems to be a widely held opinion that had President Obama been more aggressive and refused to try to unite the country that he would have accomplished more.

    It leaves me suspecting that lots of people are not well informed about what he has accomplished. If you think the list is short you might benefit from taking a look at this site…

    http://whatthefuckhasobamadonesofar.com/

    (For those slow on the uptake, click on the light blue response box.)

    President Obama has a lot of message. The White House releases a constant stream of message (get on their mailing list), the President addresses the country each weekend on radio, he is often out on the road visiting ‘real people’ and repeating his message. The problem is, all off this is poorly reported. Apparently the media can sell more ads by attacking the President than by relaying his message.

    If the Administration is to be faulted on message, it might be that they have not created the “Big Talking Point” – the Great Society, the War on Terror. Perhaps they could use some help coming up with a catchy phrase for “Pulling the US from the Dung Heap Bush Drove Us Into”.

  19. Jon Gelbard says:

    Obama and his team might get some good ideas from reading the Heath brothers’ “Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die” to refresh themselves in key principles in effective messaging. Bring in Seth Godin for some inspiration and ideas.

    Bottom line: they need to more effectively use simple pictures and stories to relate to Americans why their ideas are immediately relevant to making our lives better.

    In a Congressional townhall meeting last year, I noted, for example, a major connection between health insurance reform and clean energy. That is, the National Academy of Science’s report, “The Hidden Costs of Energy” estimates that dirty energy (coal, oil, etc) costs Americans $162 BILLION per year in health costs alone! This demonstrates that if we want to reign in our skyrocketing health care costs, and thus health insurance premiums, a great solution is to pass clean energy legislation!

    2. Anyone who votes against clean energy legislation is voting FOR MONEY FOR THE TERRORISTS.

    There is a positive, inspiring message in clean energy that appeals to Americans’ need for HOPE in these challenging times. Our nation’s psyche is sickened by the constant negativity blasted out by the right-wing media. Across the political spectrum, people don’t like our addiction to oil. It screams of America’s weakness.

    I’ve been able to get multiple climate deniers to agree on solutions to climate change via the clean energy pathway – because I start off by asking don’t they agree that it’s ridiculous that every time we fill our gas tanks, we’re sending money overseas to countries that in some cases support terrorism. Don’t they agree that America would be STRONGER if we produced clean energy and do what it takes to lead the world in this next great industrial revolution. They get it, albeit for different reasons than those who accept the science of climate disruption.

    I’m encouraged that more and more Republicans seem to be getting this, and hope that we can get enough GOP votes on this basis. But Obama and the Democrats need to be bold and call out anti-clean energy votes as votes for money for the terrorists!

    Just a couple of ideas off the top of my head…

    Keep up the incredible work, folks!

  20. Jon Gelbard says:

    On climate disruption, by the way, messaging needs to be simple – as high up on Maslow’s hierarchy as possible.

    It’s about a treat to our FOOD supply.

    It’s about threats to our water supply.

    It’s about scary storms, tornados, floods.

    The NY Times story the other day about Norfolk’s plight vs. sea level rise is a great one to repeat again and again.

    We need more of those — clear pictures and stories in terms that make the threat very VISIBLE in terms immediately relevant to Americans’ everyday lives.

  21. Chris Winter says:

    My gut feeling is that the president should figuratively draw a line in the sand and challenge the Republicans to cross it. But that could be risky with such a bad economy. The key, I think, is to pick the right battles. From what I know, several present themselves. The new START treaty is one. Extending unemployment benefits is another. Regulations on Wall Street could be a third possibility. Success with a hard line on these would help his chances with everything else.

    This could work for climate change too. President Obama is playing it the right way, as a jobs-booster, but he needs to push harder on two angles: the new jobs here at home, and the threat of green jobs and technology in China.

  22. Helen says:

    You’ve got a generally top-notch website, peforming a valuable service and doing it very well, so I’m sorry to be anal about this, but it’s a pet peeve: Literally means literally, it doesn’t mean figuratively. The White House has not “literally become a textbook”. The White House has a roof, walls, doors and hallways, while textbooks have covers and pages. That is all. Hug. :)

  23. CW says:

    “What if it’s all a hoax and we end up making a better world for nothing?”

    http://www.gocomics.com/joelpett/2009/12/13/ (thanks Joel Pett)

    In short, it’s the usual indirect things that’ll most likely get us there if we enhance the framing and repeat, repeat, repeat:

    Green jobs, liveable cities (including better commuting), energy independence, competetiveness with China, human health, national security, fairness (stop govt subsidy of wealthy companies), etc.

  24. Edward says:

    14 James Newberry: “nuclear power technology was invented for and is today the very basis of atomic weapons systems”
    WRONG. Nuclear power has NOTHING to do with nuclear weapons. Nuclear powerplants make the WRONG isotope of plutonium Pu240. Bombs need Pu239.

  25. FishEagle says:

    @ Chris Winter (#16) I agree that conservatives see everything scientists have to say about climate change as hype. I’m not one of those people. And I do believe that society should spend every last cent to turn things around and try to mitigate our impact on the environment. From my experience that’s the sentiment shared by the average guy in the street (obviously excluding a powerful few from big corporations that stand to lose business). The problem is that the scientific and political debates about climate change have become so intertwined that people are no longer able to make any distinction, which is why the conservatives have written off the climate change scientists. Most climate change scientists, who never disassociated themselves from politics, have left leaning political ideologies. They came up with cap-and-trade and the solution was presented as either that or nothing. Cap-and-trade is not an acceptable solution so the conservatives chose the ‘nothing’ option.

    I have confidence that the scientific message will eventually reach the average guy in the street, loud and clear. People will come to realize that we need to take drastic action to reduce our carbon emissions. When we have so little time it’s a pity that it’s taking much longer than it should because scientific facts were never separated from the political planning and policy making process.

    I only used the word hype because climate change has become such a contentious political issue that people can’t even have a reasonable discussion about the topic anymore. I am possibly guilty of being alarmist, but only in the sense that I am devastated by the state of our environment.

  26. Chris Winter says:

    @Bob Wallace:

    There’s also http://obamaachievements.org/ which has the achievements organized differently.

  27. with the doves says:

    Thanks for raising this issue. Like many, I am sliding toward the conclusion that Obama’s administration suffers something deeper than weak messaging and naivite. They fundamentally are not liberal Democrats. Nor are they willing to be the transformational change agents they sold themselves to us as. Having Larry Summers as your top economic advisor is not what a change-oriented president would do. Summers, after all, helped push forward the financial deregulation that enabled the current crisis, and then he misread the bubble when other economists did not.

    Obama’s other appointments are similarly revealing – e.g., Mr. Salazar.

    You are correct that insistence on “bi-partisanship” is pointless and, worse, actually destructive to the Democratic brand (“we elected them and they f*$#ed around.”) It may be that the WH is simply blind to this reality, but that seems unlikely. Obama is not dumb. Another explanation is that he is uncomfortable with remedies liberals would propose – jobs program, better stimulus, stop propping up zombie banks, etc. – and so uses this “bi-partisan” talk as a way to avoid pushing stuff he doesn’t like anyway.

    Witness his deficit commission. What a joke that is, and it’s his fault. The commission chairs (both Obama appointees) seem mainly concerned with tax cuts (way to solve the deficit, guys) and social security (which does not contribute to the deficit). So now we have a Democratic president’s commission talking about cutting social security. Real liberals are forced to oppose it. Why did he ever do this?

    Examples of bad messaging are numerous. E.g., the NYT magazine interview:

    “During our hour together, Obama told me he had no regrets about the broad direction of his presidency. But he did identify what he called ‘tactical lessons.’ He let himself look too much like ‘the same old tax-and-spend liberal Democrat.’ He realized too late that ‘there’s no such thing as shovel-ready projects’ when it comes to public works.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/17/magazine/17obama-t.html?_r=1

    Excuse me, but no Democrat worth his salt should never use the “tax-and-spend liberal” line. He basically legitimated a classic GOP smear of liberals. And it is so stupid. All governments tax and spend. He appears to have internalized a lot of the post-1980 “government is evil” propaganda from the right.

    There is the amazing announcement that deep-water drilling is not unsafe, right before the GOM disaster. There is him saying that Wall Street and Main Street are two sides of the same coin, when regular Americans are really hurting, thanks to a credit crisis precipitated by Wall Street cupidity.

    But again, I don’t know if this is really bad messaging. It seems likely that much of it is actually what Obama and his people really think.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Obama MUST LEAD!
    We know that 1 billion US dollars goes into foreign oil EVERY DAY! Probably another billion goes to China EVERY DAY! What don’t we/they understand? Money blown overseas equals jobs gone! You don’t have to be an economist to know that this old practice is a sure formula for making the USA into a THIRD WORLD COUNTRY. The corrupted (i say what i think) Repug-nut-cons will always vote against progress because it will make Obama look like a leader and Big Fossil pays their bills! I love it when Joe nails it with this article. We all want Obama to win but it can only be done by leadership. The thought that he can deal with ‘thee corrupted’ is absurd! Money has destroyed Democracy! When Obama stands up against the Faux Net Spin, no matter how painful, he will win!

  29. Pythagoras says:

    I don’t get it myself either. Obama has some top-notch advisers in leadership positions that understand that Climate Change is going to be one of the defining issues of his presidency–Stephen Chu (Energy Secretary), John Huntsman(ex-governor Utah, ambassador to China), Ron Sims (Health & Human Services), Gary Locke (ex-governor Washington, US Commerce Secretary), Lisa Jackson (EPA).

    The explanation that I have to give is that it isn’t messaging. It is that the Democratic Party–and for matter, the Republican Party establishment as well–does not have an effective method of neutralizing the radical free-market ideologues aligned with Dick Armey, David and Charles Koch, US Chamber of Commerce, Club for Growth, George C Marshall Institute, and CATO Institute.

  30. James Newberry says:

    Edward, #24. To clarify my point, the industrial apparatus needed to make reactor fuel through uranium enrichment can be used to provide highly enriched uranium for an atomic bomb, like that used on Hiroshima. The atomic pile, or nuclear reactor, was invented to fabricate plutonium for the Nagasaki “devise.” All reactors make plutonium 239 during fission, along with many fission products (such as cesium 137).

    I’m sorry, but atomic fission is a direct result of the Manhattan Project of World War II. Civilian and military nuclearization are two heads of the same coin. (See: The Making of the Atomic Bomb by R. Rhodes) It barely survives economically in America today by indemnification of insurance liabilities and socialization of several large uneconomic debts. Wall Street will not touch this failed public utility scheme from a “free market investment” viewpoint, and even then only if the public takes ownership of their “waste” and liabilities.

  31. Scrooge says:

    We needed a Rosevelt and got a Carter. Like Carter he is more than capable of working out complex problems. He needs to push his agenda and stop treating conservatives like adults. Conservatives cannot handle complex problems. Like FishEagle says cap and trade is to complex. What Obama has to make clear to conservatives is for Americas sake they can either help lead or they can follow, if they can’t do either one of those then get out of the way.

  32. George Ennis says:

    At this point he could announce that he will not seek a second term.

    Other than that it’s a two for one special for the GOP in 2012 since they will undoubtedly have a candidate who denies the facts of climate change while in Obama the Democrats would have a candidate who is no climate hawk but mote like a mewling kitten.

  33. Scrooge says:

    The message also has to be sent is that anyone in congress that say they don’t know if GW is being caused by humans or that carbon dioxide is not a ghg then they are either lying or are to stupid to be in congress.

  34. Tim Kelly says:

    Fisheagle@25:

    First, I want to remind you that cap-and-trade was a Republican invention, signed into law by the first Bush to combat climate change. What I saw during the debate was an unwillingness on the part of the Republican Party to allow an adult national conversation on the issue of climate change, period. That continues to the present.

    As to the comment on scientists and their ideology, the recent Energy and Environment Subcommittee hearings demonstrate that the scientific community deals witrh DATA, not ideology or politics. The video is available on C-SPAN. I cannoty recommend it highly enough. The testimony regarding ocean acidification alone ought to be enough to sober people up. That and Roscoe Bartlett’s assertion that the conventional oil supplies are about to start a steep decline from the current peak of 65 million barrels a day to 15 million barrels a day (according to the IEA).

  35. Tim Kelly says:

    Regarding my earlier post: I meant to say acid rain. I apologize to all for the error.

  36. PurpleOzone says:

    I’ve been thinking for some months the White House press/PR people should be replaced. The worst thing about the Obama administration is the PR (just as it was the best in the Bush administration by far).

    People were afraid because of the lingering recession. The message should have been JOBS, JOBS, JOBS. I think the economy on main street is picking up; so the message in the next election should be Jobs for Today and Tomorrow. I think many people voted for the Republicans this month because they are scared of losing their jobs.

    Obama and the Democrats didn’t trumpet their work in preserving jobs and rescuing the economy. Instead, they let the Republicans walk off with the deficit problem. Still mainly a Republican problem left from the obscene SPEND AND DON’T TAX policies of the Repubs. Much of it a problem of lack of revenue. The incoming President doesn’t really own the budget for a year and a half.

    We are a great nation. The Democrats ought to crucify the people who (say they) want a little teeny government. We won’t stay a great nation if the Tea Party policies (captured by the Koch brothers) go into effect.

    The Dems need to analyze the right wing bs and counter it with common sense and simple phrases. They need to repeat simple messages over and over. Can’t they hire some good PR people?

    I recommend the Democrats exhume Harry Truman!

  37. PurpleOzone says:

    P.S. I can not understand why the Dems put up with filibustering. All they had to do was put out tax cuts for the middle class, pass it quick and force the Repubs to do a REAL filibuster — actually stand in front of the podium night and day, wasting time and and making asses of themselves talking about nothing.

    Instead the Dems backed off on the tax cut issue. WHY?

  38. sailrick says:

    Edward @ 24
    And we are worried about Iran why?

  39. sailrick says:

    FishEagle @3

    Why not something like the Clear Act, rather than cap and trade, which has too many loopholes for polluting industries?
    If your not familiar with it, the Clear Act is a carbon tax and dividend, with the majority of revenue being returned to the people, and some for renewables development.
    Then the fossil fuel industry can’t claim that the public will end up paying for it.

    You claim cap and trade can’t work. It worked for acid rain and CFS.

  40. Before launching my diatribe… Could it be that Economics is as difficult, or more difficult than ANY Science? I just finished reading about how Pres. Reagan was conned by HyperScientist Teller into launching “Star Wars”, “Brilliant Pebbles” and other complex missile defense strategies that led NOWHERE. Are we expecting too much of one mere human, to be the top expert on everything including Missile Defense, Economy, Health Care and human propensity to take advantage of whatever is funded by Congress? Rhetorically speaking, of course.

    A simple approach to the unemployment problem would have been to ask his top three economic advisors to propose how to deal with this task: MORE JOBS. And include the weakness and strengths of each AND send a copy for independent comment by the other two top Economic Advisors.
    Instead of that, after two years of no progress and no plan, two of his top three left government. The third one, no doubt, is working day and night on this problem and is putting the final touches for presentation and we await results.

    The following is my suggestion but, like it often happens with good ideas, others think of them independently. The history of Modern Physics is littered with such cases and they are all indisputable, now.

    My idea is based on the facts published on the recent opening of a huge $1 Billion computer integrated component factory in a city with no major University, by Intel of Silicon Valley, CA. Its “Clean Room” is the size of 5 football fields and doubles Intel capacity and Intel has full access to top civilian leaders -we prohibit that, don’t we?
    The Start: Intel leaders were shown a swamp and told they could use it, they build their factory on stilts. Intel hired about 300 local teachers and taught them what they needed to teach all future workers.
    Of course, one could say, “many nations could have done that!” but, when asked, Intel gave an insightful answer “Wages in India and China are higher and growing rapidly!” Clearly, this means: We are Priced Out!
    So, dear reader, what’s the solution?
    We could go through a Deflation and hope we get through, right?
    We could hope the salaries at the top one third are cut, before we think “hanged in effigy”, or worse, we forget about this approach.
    We could wish Low Income Workers be trained to replace High Pay workers but we will see what Santa Claus thinks of that at Christmas. No Go!
    Why not repeat in the USA the same as Intel did in Vietnam?
    That is, hire local unemployed but able to learn skills required like Intel did and, guess what? That is what the Brazilian Embraer Aircraft decided and they are building a new airplane factory in Florida, to hire all those about to be fired by NASA and USAF anywhere. Another reason, they said, to lower the shipping cost for all the components used in their airplanes, including the engines, electronics, etc. They expect production costs to be lower than in Brazil and expect profits.
    My conclusion: The only politically viable option is to upgrade the skills of Low Income Worker and put them to work in computer controlled Assembly Line Robots. All the high skill and precision work is done by the robot, the workers push buttons and deal with the unexpected, as they are trained to do, by the factory.
    This will not be new, Japan has operated a factory with no lights and no workers for ten years building computer-controlled Universal Assembly line Robots, sold world wide but, most probably, not in the USA.
    The option of lowering top salaries is not viable, they will rather see the company, and maybe the nation, fail before they accept a pay cut -I saw some say as much in TV.
    Dealing with Unions is not as tough as the propaganda implies, when Ford had the choice of taking Millions from Washington with the option to get a Judge to approve a contract, Pres. Mullaly opted to negotiate with Unions, the results remain unpublished but Ford returned to profit first. Pres. Mullaly was formerly the President of Boeing Commercial Co.
    Dealing with Unions may be tough but dealing with those in the “top 20% salary bracket” to accept a cut in pay is pointless. They need to move to a new job elsewhere at less pay -they are replaceable.
    Just like the Brazilian Embraer will offer in Florida, our companies have done the same already and build new airplane assembly lines in Kansas and North Carolina, recently, like they did in Texas and other southern states before, or next door neighbors, on both sides -quietly.
    Therefore, the ONLY way we can survive and prosper is to promote the skill and salaries of Low Income Workers here, or it will be done in Mexico and Canada.
    Managers already know how to run robot-controlled assembly lines, error-free and precision unmatched by current productions. Yes, the initial, hand build versions will still continue with their out of sight geniuses and skills our grandparents never had -they are irreplaceable but rare.

  41. Joan Savage says:

    Obama has had some shallow spots in information on electorate, economy, and environment.
    He tends to retreat into argument-based law professor mode when his information is shallow. A more confident populist voice is possible, when the message makes common sense.

    He has had some successes that need more glowing attention, such as the health care reform component that helps small businesses manage health insurance costs. Winding down an expensive painful war is a very good thing.

    My advice to him is get some fresh resources for advisors. The “we” in “Yes we can” needs broadening and deepening. Stale ideas need to be swept out. Fortunately Rahm Emanuel’s brash voice has already departed.

    Clean coal was a part of Obama’s environmental platform that revealed a gap in his understanding. Mountaintop removal is losing support, fortunately, though foreign governments are buying up the domestic reserves. He needs a plan to deal with that.

    “Shovel ready” would have worked better with projects with extensive manual labor like the Hoover Dam, not in the present one where construction relies largely on huge imported machines powered by fossil fuels. So look afresh at parts of the economy that are labor-intensive and not exportable, such as health care, education, emergency preparedness (natural disasters), parts of agriculture and forestry, and retrofitting transport and buildings to be less energy-gulping. Encourage investment in those areas, not necessarily with money, but with expediting related changes.

    Take into account that new jobs show up fast in small businesses. The tax law revision should deal with those as businesses, not as personal income.

  42. Gary says:

    George Lakoff suggested recently that President Obama needs to
    return to the politics of morality….I concur….

  43. Barry says:

    Maybe Obama could camp out in the rose garden until the Republicans agree to release some of this policies they are holding hostage.

  44. Barry says:

    Fish Eagle (#25), I agree that conservatives didn’t like the cap-and-trade bill because it conflicted with a number of conservative values. Fine.

    But it is wrong to say climate scientists are liberal and supported cap-and-trade. Ever heard to James Hansen? He has been calling for a carbon tax from day one…which was many years ago. He has constantly called cap-and-trade a loser idea and even dedicates a chunk of his book on why.

    The problem I have with conservatives isn’t that they are opposed to the cap-and-trade bill, it is that they refuse to offer their own alternative. So what is it?

    If you are a conservative that cares about climate pollution, where is the “plan”? Where are all the conservatives offering a “conservative” solution? Where? Sure is quiet.

    So fine, you don’t like cap-and-trade. Get a plan and tell us what it is.

    And quit dragging climate scientists through the political mud. If there is one thing that drives climate concerned liberals crazy it is how non-political climate scientists have been. They have mostly refused to support ANY political solution.

    Humanity waits for the “conservative solution”.

    Still waiting…

  45. Lisa says:

    My expectations for Obama were rather low from the start because with the electoral system as it is, there is a strong tendency to get spineless wishy-washy Democratic Presidents who have no ideological compass or commitments and increasingly insane Republicans. That’s really all one can say about that.

  46. Jon Gelbard says:

    A tactical messaging reminder:

    Instead of referring to “greenhouse gases”, try to use “heat-trapping carbon pollution.”

    “Greenhouses gases” sounds vague and non-threatening. Many of you probably like greenhouses. It’s weak sauce.

    “Heat-trapping carbon pollutants” sounds dangerous.

    Give this post a re-read: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2006/03/the_problem_wit.html

    That’s always been a fun one. “Atmosphere Cancer”…

    Language matters – and there’s a lot of outstanding ideas among us that we just have to repeat repeat repeat until they catch hold and help the greater effort toward the game-changing solutions we need.

    Enjoy your Sundays, fellow ClimateHawks!

  47. William P says:

    Obama and Democrats are constantly accused of poor messaging or just not telling the public about accomplishments.

    The truth is Obama, nor Democrats own the big megaphone that communicates with the public. The right has it. They have been building it for years and it paid off.

    Limbaugh alone has an estimated 20 million listeners. Fox has maybe 50 million or more. Then there many other right wing propagandists all spouting the same Party line on climate change, Obama, hot button issues to elect more Republicans and whatever is required by right wing leadership.

    It is one, big unified right wing propaganda machine constantly bad mouthing Democrats and Obama using the hot button stuff we hear like gay marriage and Islamic mosques, but the real goal is to elect Republicans who voters are led to believe will solve all these hot button maladies.

    But once in office, Republicans get right to work on what they are really elected for: more profit generating deregulation of things like banks, Wall St., environment, supporting more profitable outsourcing of jobs, energy and the rest. Priority No. 2 is lowering taxes on corporations and the wealthy.

    Obama’s achievements are never learned by millions of Americans because there is no way to get them that information. They are tuned into propaganda outlets who will never list these achievements.

    So don’t blame Obama and his messaging. That is simply a wrong interpretation. But is falls in line with our general tendency to blame the victim.

  48. Tom Gibbons says:

    I think I remember Tip O’neill trying unsuccessfully to tell President Carter that congress can only focus on one big issue at a time. One source of Carter’s problems was that he tried to do too much in congress at once. I think Obama has listened to that and therefore refuses to fight more than one big battle at a time. He has, in fact accomplished quite a bit in congress with that strategy, but as everyone here knows, he has infuriated anyone whose issue has been kept waiting.

    Regarding his continuing talk about bipartisanship, I think he is listening too much to the “mainstream” political commentators such as David Broder. I have just read Broder’s column about how the write-in victory of Lisa Murkowski was a victory for “working together” and “cooperation”, and so forth. He never once mentioned her opposition to Greenhouse standards by the EPA. In fact, I don’t think that carbon emissions are even on the radar of “mainstream” political commentators, but in Washington their word is generally taken as gospel.

    The problem is not only how to persuade Obama but also how to persuade the likes of Broder that climate action is necessary.

    I notice that in a column about the GOP’s Lame Duck Hardball, Broder does admit that the Republicans will be impossible to deal with in spite of his emphasis on cooperation in most recent columns. Maybe this is a point of contact.

    You can reach his columns from
    http://projects.washingtonpost.com/staff/articles/david+s.+broder/

  49. Bob Richardson says:

    How do you respond to Michael Crichton’s analogy of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere being like placing a pencil on a football field and then expecting everyone to believe that a minute change in the size of the pencil will affect the rest of the football field? See climatechangefacts.info/ and I think we can understand that climate change is all about following the money; create fear and loathing and ask for donations. I stood at the base of Mt. Pinatubo in June of 1991 as 80 megatons of carbon dioxide gases were distributed into the atmosphere — more than a billion cars could emit in a million years. Where were the climatologist chicken-littles then?

    [JR: Uhh, you do realize that 1) Crichton wasn't a scientist, 2) his 'analogy' wass no replacement for science and is merely a clever debating tactics that does not undo our actual understanding that carbon dioxide is now the primary driver of climate change, and 3) 80 megatons of CO2 is like a tiny hickup in human-caused emissions, which are close to 30 billion tons -- gigatons -- a year.

    You apparently have no conception of basic mathematics or even the ability to spend 30 seconds on the Internet, else you would ever have made such an absurd statement as 80 megatons is more than 1 billion cars could it in 1 million years. For the record, a typical American car releases some 6 tons of CO2 directly and another ton or two indirectly. I presume you can do the math from there.

    I don't know where you are getting your right wing talking points from, but I've never seen one of the disinformers make such a basic mistake that is so many orders of magnitude off from the correct answer.]

  50. FishEagle says:

    @ Scrooge (# 31) I disagree with your statement that conservatives can’t handle complex problems. I think conservatives tend to incorporate too much of the political criteria (and not enough scientific criteria) in their problem solving process and democrats are the exact opposite. Democrats are no better at problem solving. I wish you could hear yourself because you have no idea how anti-democratic your sentiments sound. Who died and made you the king? Consider the status quo of politics in your country (assuming you’re also American) and work within that framework. You have valuable information about climate change that will impact everybody but that does not automatically mean that you, or climate change scientists, were appointed the representative of your country to lead it out of the problem.

    @ Tim Kelly (# 34) I have no loyalty to Bush or the GOP. It was a very poor decision and the legislation should never have been passed. They created a false currency and it goes against principles of capitalism and ultimately promoted bigger government. Such a false currency can only work as long as every criteria that has an impact on the economy stays constant. That will work well in la-la-land but it won’t be doing so well here on earth. The Tea Party movement has an unexpected amount of support today and it is the resulting backlash against poor decisions made by Bush and other RINO’s.

    I agree that there is no conversation about the topic and both conservatives and democrats are equally guilty of failing in dialogue.

    The New York Times wrote an article about the left leaning tendencies of academics. That really says something if a left leaning publication like the NYT admits there is such a disparity. The article is aptly titled “Professor Is a Label That Leans to the Left” (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/18/arts/18liberal.html?_r=1&em) and it comments, “The tendency of people in any institution or organization to try to fit in also reinforces the political one-sidedness.” I will have a look at the video you recommended.

    @Sailrick (#39). I don’t have a problem with any act that regulates and reduces carbon emissions. I’m familiar with a project in South Africa, where I’m based, that contributes to the Chicago Climate Exchange. In principle, there is an exchange between the amount of carbon emitted from industry and the amount of Portulacaria afra planting . (P. afra is a plant that acts as a carbon sink.) As far as my understanding goes that is not cap and trade since there is no ‘profit’ in carbon that may be traded. It’s a project that makes a lot of sense because the required legislation to implement the principle of carbon reduction is simple and enforceable.

    @ Barry (#44) I’m only in my 30′s and I don’t have an in depth understanding of the history of cap and trade developments. If you could provide any links that support your assertion that climate scientists do not support cap and trade I would be very grateful. The conservative solution is simple. Enforce carbon emission reduction and let the markets respond without government interference.

  51. Peter Wood says:

    I remember David Axelrod appearing on the Daily Show, where he had a great opportunity to put out a strong narrative – he comprehensively failed to do so.

  52. Anne says:

    It’s always been this way! The Democrats have been more about governance, policy wonking, and populist agendas, esp for the middle class, blue collar folks — that is, until the Dems got JUST AS CORRUPT as the Republicans because we desperately need CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM! Also the Democrats have, overall, had good intentions but have been so DISORGANIZED! They haven’t been able to reign in their own. No hierarchy, no discipline, a more laissez faire method of leadership. Doesn’t work. The Republicans, on the other hand, have party discipline. The troops walk in a line, there have been few very to stray off the range. Think: organized, focused, effective.

    The problem is, the Republican agenda has tended to favors the rich over the poor, whites over minorities, large corporations over small businesses, and so on. But these distinctions aren’t even so accurate any more as both parties have blended to become one big corporatist mouthpiece. We really only have ONE PARTY in this country now. That’s how I feel. And our system is so effective at keeping out any sort of third party candidate that it’s virtually impossible to challenge this big, out-of-control money machine that we call politics.

    Democracy isn’t real democracy any more, though, I see it making a come-back. Slowly.

    So — Obama’s “change” message during his campaign turned out to be what you get back from your dollar, not the sort of transformation we had hoped for. And while Obama has done some good things, he has failed to use the power of his office to stand up to the corruption.

    He has failed to expose war crimes in the Bush dynasty, he has failed to stand up to the oil companies and the coal companies, he has failed to drive through an energy policy, which he should have done FIRST before health care. The whole system is a mess and must be cleaned out. Then the message will be easy, we will only need to see what’s happening to get it. Otherwise it’s just a different shade of lipstick on a cuter pig.

  53. Roger Wehage says:

    Reading these comments is so depressing. Real climate change mitigation is extremely unpopular with the majority of us in developed and developing nations, because it threatens a substantial disruption in the only way of life we’ve ever known or have been striving for our entire lives. Look at the sprawling landscapes around the United States, where the average commute time is 25 minutes and the average new house size is 2400 hundred square feet. We need our cars and houses and food and luxuries and incomes. How else are we going to survive? These now things are ever more important to us than global warming, which is far into the future. Every sane politician knows this; you do what we want or someone else will.

    I would advise reading Climate, Affluence, and Culture (Culture and Psychology) to obtain a better understanding of the challenges that lawmakers around the world are facing.

    Stop blaming the politicians; they are doing exactly what we elected them to do, which is nothing. The real culprits are easy to identify; we need only look into our mirrors.

  54. fj3 says:

    Adversaries will lose when it comes to dealing with climate change.

    They have already come up looking corrupt and dangerous obstructing completion of the US-Russian nuclear treaty as subversive to the rule of law and responsible local and international governance.

  55. fj3 says:

    There is an indication that adversaries are starting to understand the weakness of witch hunts centered on environmental issues and are going to proceed with ones similar to those that they led against Clinton as potential vehicles for continued dissemination of the typical big lies and innuendo which led to Clinton’s impeachment and dramatic depreciation of political capital.

    This should not be allowed.

  56. fj3 says:

    Recently read a reference to Obama being more like Truman than Carter and perhaps brings to mind the saying “Walk softly and carry a big stick.”

    Also continued messaging for bipartisan action will smooth the way toward more effective governance once the stuff hits and immediate action must be taken.

  57. Barry says:

    Fish Eagle (#50) you have a reasonably solid starting point of conservatives values not aligning well with recent cap-and-trade laws.

    However you are in denial about these two points:

    1) climate scientists are a gang of lefties that pushed hard for a liberal-values cap-and-trade law. wrong. you supply a link to a NYTimes article about all academics, and make your climate denial based on the broadest brush you can find. how about this: provide a list of the liberal climate scientists saying the cap-and-trade bill is the way that must be pursued. I’m sure you have a big list on the tip of your tongue as you are so heated up about the issue.

    you asked for a link to a climate scientist that argues against cap-and-trade, here it is: http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/ . Lots of options but a quicky is the article entitled “Only a carbon tax and nuclear power can save us.” The scientist is James Hansen, perhaps the top USA climate scientist, works for NASA for decades, coined the term “global warming”, first to testify to congress about it decades ago, and adviser to a long string of US Presidents.

    So can we stop with the “liberal climate scientists push only liberal cap-and-trade solution” myth please? If you are going to oppose stopping climate change threats to our future security you should at least have a real reason, eh?

    2) Where is the conservative solution? Seriously, this is the number one biggest failing of conservatives for decades. Where is it Fish Eagle? You say “The conservative solution is simple. Enforce carbon emission reduction and let the markets respond without government interference.” Are you joking? Can you please show me any example of a GOP or even conservative national effort for how to actually “enforce carbon emission reduction”. Any? How about one?

    Oh wait now I remember one. Not.

    Conservatives are sacrificing our future by opposing existing efforts to limit carbon emissions while also refusing to provide an alternative way to limit carbon emissions that they would support.

    Our kids desperately need a solution to carbon threats that conservatives will support.

  58. Frank Zaski says:

    Tar and Feathers!?! How much of this anger is against Obama and how much of it is against ourselves for not doing more and sooner? This reminds me of the bad boss who openly chastises her employee for a mistake without first offering more guidance and encouragement.

    Republicans won because not enough liberals came out to vote. It seems that many commentators (and CAP too) took the negative approach and possibly discouraged would be liberal voters.

    Venting is good, makes one feel good, or does it? Positive plans and actions might be better.

  59. FishEagle says:

    Barry (#57) Thanks for the link.

    I am heated up about the fact that my comments have been deleted off this site in the past. Commentators directed their rhetoric towards me along the lines of being a ‘fish out of water.’ We only differed in political ideology during debates, never on any climate change science issues, so it was clear that most people taking part in the discussions were leftwing liberals. If I am guilty of painting all climate change scientists with the same brush, then it is because of my experience blogging on this website, which Time magazine named one of the “Top 15 Green Websites.” It’s not because I read the content of the NYTimes article, which I linked to. In my opinion that article just explained the phenomenon very well.

    I am not opposed to “stopping climate change threats.” Never was.

    I agree wholeheartedly with your comment that ,”Conservatives are sacrificing our future by opposing existing efforts to limit carbon emissions while also refusing to provide an alternative way to limit carbon emissions that they would support.” I’m not one of those conservatives though. I’ve given you my solution already.

  60. Jon Gelbard says:

    A few more points to consider:
    1) Are the problems we’re seeing just Obama and Congress, or a reflection of deeper systemic problems?

    For example, that
    a) the Fourth Estate is currently ineffectual in educating the voting public – Jefferson surely is rolling in his grave about this.

    b) money governs politics – both major parties are corrupted by money, and spend far too much time worrying about their donors and too little worrying about how to fix America’s problems. As another a remedy to this current condition of political dysfunction, we need real campaign finance reform.

    That brings us back to David Orr and Bill Becker’s “100 Days of Climate Action”, which I commented on here: http://conservationvalue.blogspot.com/2007/10/leading-fight-against-climate-change-is.html

    Two of their top recommendations for Climate Action were Campaign Finance Reform and reinstating the Fairness Doctrine.

    The conversation above reminds us why — that deep systemic problems underlie the climate inaction we’re seeing in the U.S., particularly at the Federal level.

    Much of the inaction and other problems discussed above can be characterized as symptoms of our systemic issues.

  61. Jon Gelbard says:

    There are also many more opportunities to develop strategic and powerful political coalitions for advancing a Clean Energy Economy.

    For example, consider how clean energy solutions that lower our energy costs will leave Americans’ more money to spend on everything else: In the case of clean, efficient transport, upgrading from a car that gets 20 mpg to one that gets 50 mpg will save the average American nearly $1,100/year in gas costs at $3/gallon (given the average distance Americans drive per year – about 12,000 miles; savings rise considerably as gas prices and miles driven go up).

    That savings is nearly two times the cash provided to us by our 2008 stimulus checks! Multiply that by the 112 million households in the U.S. alone, and that’s $123.2 billion/year that American households are now spending on gasoline that with a mandate for more efficient vehicles, they would have to spend on…everything else – electronics, clothing, travel, education, you name it. Or of course just to SAVE for themselves or their children.

    The same type of math applies to energy efficiency. The losers are oil companies and utilities, but leagues of other business sectors benefit from consumers having lower energy costs!

    Why are these multitudes of other businesses not joining with us en masse to fight for clean energy and transport?! It’s clearly the right thing to do for our economy, jobs, health, security, environment and quality of life alike!

    We need to build these types of coalitions.

    2) The same type of math applies to health insurance reform. Reigning in health care costs (including their causes, which include pollution), and health insurance costs will leave consumers more money to spend on everything else, or to save!

    Why did we not hear this line of argument from Obama and congressional Dems during the debate over Health Insurance Reform?!

    How about all of us aiming to build coalitions of the businesses that will benefit from consumers’ having to spend less of our hard-earned money on gasoline and utility bills and health insurance?

    Surely these types of powerful coalitions will provide a formidable match for dirty, greedy and health insurance companies.

  62. Prokaryotes says:

    In light of the release of secret diplomatic cables by wikileaks the US-Obama should show leadership now, in taken up the fight of climate change.

    Climate change is caused by civilizations environmental impacts and can only be solved by combined civilization affords – change. If the united affords e.g. Cancun and resulting world wide large scale affords to tackle climate change fails, the species fails.

  63. Tom Gibbons says:

    This quote from FishEagle (#50), “The conservative solution is simple. Enforce carbon emission reduction and let the markets respond without government interference,” has me confused. That idea of enforcing reductions is usually seen as hopelessly liberal. In fact the whole cap-and-trade idea was cooked up during the Reagan and Bush I years as a conservative alternative to regulation. At the time it was for attacking other environmental problems such as acid rain, and it was supposed to use carbon markets to produce solutions through private innovation. Now cap-and-trade is hopelessly liberal and enforcing emission reduction is conservative. I think the conclusion is obvious. Stop holding proposed solutions up to a liberal or a conservative litmus test and just analyze what works. Anything wrong with that?

  64. Peter M says:

    Obama has a huge messaging problem- he somehow thinks he can bring the polarized left and right of the country together. How he still Sticks to this belief at this point is a profound mistake on his part.

    He comes across as weak and indecisive. The constant 24 hour barrage of the right wing media and its Orwellian like media presence has indoctrinated millions of confused and uniformed Americans into believing the evils of Government and the false promises of the Private sector.

    Be that as it may I talked to a Policy director in Democratic politics in Connecticut- the weak reforms passed by Obama and congress will not be enough to stop a more catastrophic economic and societal decline in the near future- What will push us over the edge? The inability of Americans to understand the dire straights we are in as a society?

    Add the accumulating effects of climate change into the equation- and the you can extrapolate further into an American system that will teeter -if not fall off a cliff.

  65. FishEagle says:

    Tom Gibbons (#63) said, “Stop holding proposed solutions up to a liberal or a conservative litmus test and just analyze what works. Anything wrong with that?”

    Yes, there is something wrong with that. The solutions that need to be considered when deciding on a way forward for addressing the problem of climate change will unquestionably be political in nature. These are the solutions that need to be voted on by the general public as part of the democratic process.

    On the other hand, the proposed solutions for solving some of the scientific problems that have been encountered during the process of defining climate change and its impacts should not be held up to a liberal or conservative litmus test. To get the scientific message across loud and clear that we have a massive crisis on our hands, scientists should stop confusing people with information about biased sources of information, bla-bla-bla. Scientists need to debate the scientific facts. They really need to consciously limit their voices to their chosen fields of expertise, no matter how daunting that task may seem, given how corrupted the system is. So what if they got their funding from research from an oil company, or other tainted source? The public just want to know whether the science is good and what conclusions may be drawn from the data. That’s how you get a clear message across to the public. That’s how scientists portray confidence in their work.

  66. Tom Gibbons says:

    The last couple of posts (64 and 65) point to a communication problem that we have. “Obama has a huge messaging problem” and there is a “constant 24 hour barrage of the right wing media..” (#64). See there? The right wing people delegate the responsibility for messaging around broadly. If there is a right-wing president, they all form a circle around him, facing out, and defend him. If there is a (somewhat) liberal president, we all form a circle around him, facing in, and throw darts. Although there are some obvious exceptions – especially here, most of Obama’s supporters just quit the day after his election and said, “Let the president do it and if he doesn’t we’ll get him.” But we are being advised in #65 to limit our voices to our chosen field of expertise. However, much of the messaging problem is that most people of the liberal persuasion do just that (again, with exceptions). As FishEagle says, the climate problem has both political and scientific parts. But what he doesn’t say is that you just can’t separate them when talking publicly.

    Right now that 24-hour right wing barrage is saying that the election result was, among other things, a rejection of what they call a “climate tax”. It wasn’t, but where is the 24-hour barrage saying so? They appear to be gearing up for an assault on the EPA. Is there going to be a 24-hour barrage opposing that, or will we just say, “Let Obama do it, and if he doesn’t we’ll get him?”

    In spite of my obvious liberal bias, I am still not willing to hold climate solutions up to a liberal/conservative test. If I did, I would reject cap-and-trade as far too conservative just like environmentalists did when it was first invented. But it may be the only legislative possibility in town. Not just now, of course, when there isn’t any legislative possibility, but sometime.

  67. Roger says:

    Let’s keep it simple: Obama needs to take an hour or so to request, then polish and present, a really good Oval Office speech on climate!

    It needs to brifly state the science, explain our basic options in terms of the benefits and potential impacts of action vs. inaction, then go on to a bold, clear statement of what we must do to prevail.

    As part of this, I’d suggest we re-focus our national attention away from the semi-bogus ‘war on terror’ to the very real ‘war to survive.’

  68. Roger says:

    Coming soon to a blog near you: a clever approach that Climate Hawks may wish to borrow from the previous century, with updates, in order to encourage faster progress on critical climate legislation.

    Here’s a small clue: What new role might “Climate Action Patrols,” or CAPs, play in the climate movement?

    As always, proper messaging will be critical.