Brad DeLong 1, Joshua Green 0

So Joshua Green, senior editor of The Atlantic, writes a column that says of recent news that 2010 was the hottest year on record:

The news highlighted one of Washington’s biggest failures over the last two years: its inability to advance climate legislation, It was also a grim reminder that things could get worse. Some crucial policy areas have always been neglected and some initiatives stalled. But rarely has a first-order concern like the nation’s climate and energy policy actually regressed — and so dramatically as we’ve seen since the last presidential election.

Economist Brad DeLong writes a piece in response, “Why Oh Why Can’t We Have a Better Press Corps?” pointing out the blame should not be spread around to all of “Washington”:

Now let’s stop right now. The inability to advance climate legislation wasn’t “Washington’s” failure: it was a failure of Republican legislators, their tame hacks and propagandists, the carbon-energy lobby, and coal-state Democratic legislators.

Joshua Green knows who the culprits are as well as I do. But for some reason he does not believe he can say so in his lead.

Why not, Joshua? Why not?

Why oh why can’t we have a better press corps?

Fair enough.

But in a column titled, “Why Oh Why Can’t We Have a Better Blogosphere?” Green replies weakly:

Like pigs sniffing for truffles, some liberal bloggers specialize in rooting around for instances where lazy journalists have blamed both parties for a sin that’s attributable to just one (Republicans). By and large, this is a useful endeavor, and Berkeley economist Brad Delong has a pretty good sniffer. But it led him astray when he zeroed in [update: link fixed] on my recent column about the failure to pass climate legislation as an example of the genre. The column bemoaned the fact that Washington has not only failed to make significant progress on stopping climate change, but has actually regressed — and could do so further, since Republicans will target EPA regulations. That wasn’t enough for Delong, who thinks Republicans deserve 100 percent of the blame for this sorry state of affairs. But he’s wrong, and ought to know better. Unlike, say, health care reform, climate issues generally break down by geographic region rather than by party. Many midwestern and coal-state Democrats opposed cap and trade as staunchly as any Republican. Those who didn’t, like Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.), lost their jobs. And the most vivid example of opposition to cap and trade didn’t come from a Republican, but from a Democrat, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who went so far as to cut an ad that showed him shooting a bullet through the cap and trade bill.

#FAIL

No serious debating points were scored there, I’m afraid. First off, DeLong didn’t assign 100% of blame to Republicans. Nor do I — For me, the GOP and it’s anti-science, pro-pollution allies in corporate American and the conservative movement who support the vast right wing disinformation campaign get about 60% of the blame (see “The failed presidency of Barack Obama, Part 2” and “The GOP flip flops on cap and trade”). The media gets 30% of the blame — including the center-right Atlantic which has had some dreadful stuff on the subject, especially by Senior Editor Clive Crook (see “And the 2010 Citizen Kane award for non-excellence in climate journalism goes to “¦”).

Green offers false balance in this statement:

Unlike, say, health care reform, climate issues generally break down by geographic region rather than by party. Many midwestern and coal-state Democrats opposed cap and trade as staunchly as any Republican.

The reason that analysis is flawed is that the GOP overwhelmingly opposes climate action no matter where they came from — even if they once supported action, as with McCain. On the other hand, many coal-state Dems supported a climate bill — and it is widely believed that even Robert Byrd would have voted for a final bill, but in any case he was not a staunch opponent like the vast majority of Republicans. What coal-state Republican would ever say “Coal Must Embrace The Future: The truth is that some form of climate legislation will likely become public policy because most American voters want a healthier environment” or call the effort to block EPA action a vote “to dismiss scientific facts” about climate change?

The Manchin ad is beyond irrelevant to this ‘debate’ since the climate bill had already died by the time it aired, as I noted at the time — see Can Gov. Manchin kill something that’s already dead? Guess that’s why they call it ‘almost’ heaven The ad did go to show how irreplaceable Robert Byrd had become.

There is much blame to go around, but it shouldn’t be too much to ask to lay most of the blame where it is deserved:

Monday, January 24, 2011

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Joshua Green — Joshua Green is a senior editor of The Atlantic and a weekly political columnist for the Boston Globe.

Joshua Green is a senior editor of The Atlantic and a weekly political columnist for the Boston Globe. He has also written for The New Yorker, Esquire, Rolling Stone, and other publications. Previously, he was an editor at The Washington Monthly. He began his career as an editor at the satirical weekly, The Onion (back at a time when that failed to impress anyone). His writing has been anthologized in books ranging from The Best American Political Writing 2009 to The Bob Marley Reader.

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Why Oh Why Can’t We Have a Better Blogosphere?