Time: Why the Climate Bill Failed

The key question is — can we pass a serious climate bill next year? Certainly that depends on who we elect president. But the Boxer-Lieberman-Warner bill debate contains many clues, which is why I spend so much time blogging on it.

Time magazine has publish their own post-post-post-mortem of the debate here, and while I don’t agree with it entirely, it is certainly worth reading to get a mainstream media view. Her are the final two paragraphs, which should be sobering to anyone hoping the US reassert its leadership on the issue next year:

When Reid’s procedural vote finally came, on Friday morning, 48 Senators voted to move ahead with the debate, and 36 voted against. Boxer was happy to claim that a total of 54 were in favor of moving ahead — because six absent Senators, including Obama, McCain, Hillary Clinton, and Ted Kennedy, had written letters saying they would have voted in favor had they been present. Fifty-four would have been significant — the first time a majority of Senators voted for climate action. But 48 is the number in the Congressional Record, and it only got that high because 10 moderate Democrats who would have voted against the bill cut a deal with Reid: nine of them voted for the procedural motion to help their party save face, then they published a letter explaining why they didn’t support the bill.

That detail was overlooked in the cheerful post-vote statements of the green groups. But that’s not surprising; it’s their job to be optimistic and keep pushing and pushing and pushing. So they pointed to a hopeful sign: 10 Senators who had never before supported cap-and-trade legislation voted for Reid’s attempt to move the bill forward. That was good news by any measure. But it would be a stretch to call it a sign of inevitability. This is a war, and in war, the outcome is never preordained.

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