I Vote for “Free Pass”


Dave Roberts has questions about John McCain and the environment:

Will the media learn from its mistake, or will it give the candidates another free pass on climate? If it does look a little closer, it will find that McCain is no green champion (more on that in a subsequent post). It might even force McCain to put or shut up on this issue — while voters who care about it still have a chance to act on their convictions.

Easy answer: free pass.

But to move beyond media-bashing, one reason George W. Bush was able to get away with climate flim-flam so easily in 2000, was that Al Gore didn’t seriously try to make an issue out of this. His advisors thought they had good reasons to not make a big issue out of global warming. I think they were wrong, but their argument isn’t crazy. And right or wrong, the point is that they had a deliberate strategy. The strategy had some benefits, but it also had some costs. And one cost is that it’s much easier for your opponent to get away with flim-flam when you don’t focus on the issue in question. It would be nice for the media to just kind of do politicians’ job for them, but it doesn’t work like that. When the leading members of the Democratic Party didn’t make a big deal out of the administration’s bogus intelligence claims in 2002, the press didn’t make a big deal out of it either. If the candidate doesn’t make a big deal out of the phoniness of McCain’s environmental agenda, neither will TV news. That’s life.