The Climate Crackup

I rarely disagree with Steve Benen but I do think that if you look at things through a purely cynical lens, that Lindsay Graham did the Democratic Party an enormous favor by pulling support for a climate change bill over the weekend.


Realistically, moving forward on this issue poses a lot of political risks to a lot of Democrats and objectively the odds of success are low. But to simply tell environmental activists that you’re not going to even attempt to address the biggest problem facing the world because you’re too lazy would be unacceptable. Everyone recognizes, however, that without someone to pick up the torch abandoned by John Warner and John McCain of “Republican advocate for climate change bill” that it’s totally hopeless. So if Graham refuses to play, the party leadership is in effect getting a bailout—they can tell activists to go complain to him. This is a terrible outcome for the world, but I think a decent short-term political outcome for the Democratic leadership.

Meanwhile, if it’s really true that Harry Reid essentially pushed Graham in this direction by saying he wants to move an immigration bill first, then that really makes very little sense. Obviously the House of Representatives already passed a climate bill so failing to even try in the Senate will lead a lot of people’s work to go to waste. And long as the Senate odds for a climate bill looked, there’s no particularly reason to think the outlook for immigration reform is any better. Under the circumstances, dropping climate midstream is nuts.