Will the GOP’s untenably calamitous position on clean energy and climate make them a permanent minority party?

The Republican conservative party is engaged in a murder-suicide pact. They will commit climaticide followed closely by political suicide.

With the departure of moderate Sen. Arlen Specter from the GOP and the circling of the wagons by the remaining right-wing idealogues — a pre-20th century metaphor seemed most apt — I thought it worth pointing out the dead end path the entire party is on.

The conservative movement stagnation has staked its entire political future on an uber-short-term anti-scientific quest for political gain at the expense of humanity’s self-destruction (see also House GOP pledge to fight all action on climate. “Why do conservatives hate your children?” and “Hill conservatives reject all 3 climate strategies and embrace Rush Limbaugh”).

Yet, while their united effort to demagogue any effort to make global warming polluters pay may well succeed in blocking strong enough domestic and international action to preserve a livable climate — conservatives can’t stop the scientific reality of catastrophic climate change caused by the human emissions they seek to accelerate. And so their calamitous climate position will become increasingly untenable, increasingly divorced from reality.

Right now they are filling up YouTube with videos of the most insane statements (see House GOP leader Boehner on ABC: “The idea that carbon dioxide is a carcinogen that is harmful to our environment is almost comical.” and Rep. Shimkus: Cutting CO2 emissions is “Taking away plant food from the atmosphere” and Rep. Barton: Climate change is ‘natural,’ humans should just ‘get shade’ “” invites ‘expert’ TVMOB (!) to testify). And they have stacked their “House GOP American Energy Solutions Group” with global warming deniers like Michele Bachmann.

Over the next decade, the painful reality of human caused global warming will really start to hit home (see “Climate Forecast: Hot “” and then Very Hot” and “Nature article on ‘cooling’ confuses media, deniers: Next decade may see rapid warming”). We are likely to see an increasing number of “near-term climate Pearl Harbors.” By the 2020s, we may well be approaching the collapse of the entire Ponzi scheme (see “When the global Ponzi scheme collapses (circa 2030), the only jobs left will be green”)

Ultimately, if we don’t avert Hell and High Water, the public will ask “Who lost the climate?” And the answer to that question will be painfully clear.

E&E Daily (subs. req’d) had a piece out yesterday, “GOP on offense in fight against Dems’ global warming bill.” I will just excerpt it at length below because it is a defining picture of the state of the GOP today, with just a tiny minority standing up against the tidal wave of denial and delay.

Although framed here in strictly political terms, which is typical, this decision by the GOP is in fact the single most important story happening anywhere in the world in recent memory. After all, if the GOP took the responsible path, then the country could easily adopt legislation that would put this country on track to help avert catastrophic warming. But they won’t.

When it comes to climate change, Republicans are all over the map. Some are skeptics about the science and causes of global warming, while others worry about the potential economic costs of a cap-and-trade program.

What brings them together? Democrats.

From demanding more hearings on the House Democrats’ climate change and energy bill to asking Al Gore about potential financial gains from renewable energy investments, the GOP is on the offensive and dialing up the rhetoric.

“This is the largest assault on democracy and freedom in this country that I have ever experienced,” Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) said at an Energy and Commerce Committee hearing last week, adding that he feared the cap-and-trade proposal more than the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and former President Clinton’s impeachment trial.

Earlier this month, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) on national television boldly questioned U.S. EPA’s decision to propose regulating carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, saying “the idea that carbon dioxide is a carcinogen that is harmful to our environment is almost comical.”

And former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), who is flirting with his own 2012 presidential run, made the ultimate threat, saying President Obama could lose the White House over global warming. “If he signs a trillion-dollar tax increase, I suspect it’ll make it much harder for him to get re-elected because I think the economy would react to the tax increase,” Gingrich said last week.

Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans won a small victory yesterday, as Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Energy and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Ed Markey (D-Mass.) punted a markup to next week and agreed to an extra hearing Friday on their draft bill.

Meanwhile, Republicans are criticizing Democrats for not being more transparent. Waxman and Markey left blank the section on emission allowances, prompting the GOP to throw the kitchen sink at the majority for failing to disclose the full details of the bill and accusing Waxman of arm-twisting and using back-room secret deals to buy votes.

When the markups do come, Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), ranking member of the full committee, is promising “mass chaos.”

Moderates wait and see

But not all Republicans are taking such a hard line.

“It’s up to the individual member,” said Rep. Mike Castle (R-Del.), a potential Senate candidate next year. “I’ve been here for 17 years. Half the time, I’m at odds with leadership and in trouble with leadership. It doesn’t bother me. From a political point of view, sometimes it’s even helpful. But I don’t do it for that reason. I believe in the science. I’m not on the side who says it doesn’t exist.”

Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.), an Energy and Commerce Committee member, insists she has not made up her mind on the issue, and she will be pushing Waxman and Markey to improve the legislation. “My concern truly is the cost,” Bono Mack said.

Former Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-N.Y.) voted for Boehner in the 2006 leadership race. But the lobbyist was not thrilled when he heard Boehner’s comments on ABC’s “This Week.” Boehlert said he brought a copy of a National Academy of Sciences report on climate to Boehner’s office.

“That was not one of his better performances, and he’s exceptionally good,” Boehlert said. “I have to admit I winced a little bit at what he had to say. … I’d suggest he’s got a little more homework to do.”

Other moderates are content to oppose the climate bill on partisan principle, saying Democrats have not reached out to them. “At this point, the speaker is leading the legislation to a very partisan dead end,” said Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), who is considering his own 2010 run for the Senate seat vacated by Obama.

Kirk said he looks to the 2008 Republican presidential nominee’s climate position. “For those of us who are pro-environment, we all follow John McCain and his view,” he said.

McCain, who previously sponsored cap-and-trade legislation, has hammered the Obama administration for linking its cap-and-trade proposal to middle-class tax cuts.

Doug Holtz-Eakin, a former top presidential campaign aide to McCain, said the GOP is well aware that climate change is a serious issue. But there is no support for the current House Democratic approach, which links a cap-and-trade program for carbon dioxide emissions with other mandates for renewable energy and other initiatives. “You get a funny picture as a result,” he said.

Democrats have put out several olive branches to the Republicans. Waxman and Markey hosted a closed-door briefing with GOP members just before the April recess. Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.), known for his bipartisan ways, also has had the door open for several years.

“My sense is for the moment, the Republicans have decided to opt out of the legislative drafting process,” Boucher said. “I’m sure they’re developing amendments they’ll offer at the markup. I’m hoping at some future point in the process, we’ll have bipartisan participation in the process. I think it’s important to have that.”

Some Republicans can make “constructive contributions,” Boucher said. “The question is when that might happen.”

Potential benefits for GOP?

GOP leaders see political red meat in the climate debate, especially for vulnerable Democrats who represent districts with a heavy industrial base.

“I think a lot of people at the NRCC hope it passes by just one vote,” said Energy and Environment Subcommittee ranking member Fred Upton (R-Mich.), referring to the National Republican Congressional Committee. “It’s a pretty heavy burden.”

Senate Republican Campaign Committee Chairman John Ensign of Nevada sent out a fundraising e-mail last week to supporters about Obama’s climate plan with the subject line: “Dead on Arrival.”

Some Republicans are taking aim at the climate bill with an eye on how it plays with their conservative base and its fears of an expanding federal government.

“In the blizzard of analysis, it’s pretty clear there will be a lot of money coming in, a lot of spending going out with significant economic consequences,” said Eric Ueland, one-time chief of staff to former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.). “And you don’t need to look at every snowflake to know you’re in a whiteout.”

The GOP leadership’s branding tactics have started to work, according to Bono Mack. “The cap-and-tax logo, slogan, is effective for a lot of people,” she said. “Cap and tax is sticking a little bit.”

Republicans are also trying to rebound after losing Congress in 2006 and the White House in 2008. They are also fighting Democratic claims the GOP is bereft of ideas and is content to simply serve as a roadblock to Obama.

Barton’s plan is to offer an alternative climate bill focusing on emission standards for new power plants, as well as broader “all of the above” domestic energy production amendments. Other Republicans are focusing on efforts to jump-start new nuclear power plant construction.

“I’d underscore the Republicans on the committee are not unifying around doing nothing,” Ueland said. “That’s a false canard tossed out from the White House briefing room, but bares little relation to reality. Barton has said there a lot of responsible ways to go. You can’t simply conclude the Republicans are in a situation of being a ‘Party of No.’”

Boehlert said the multiple messages reflects the wide tent for the party.

“They’re not going to score many points with their conference, or chart a path to majority status if they spend all their time complimenting the new president, the administration and the enhanced majority,” Boehlert said. “Their task is to be responsible opponents, to focus on areas where they can pinpoint their differences and hopefully appeal to the broader electorate to find acceptance to that message.”

But Boehlert warned that it won’t work for the GOP to just fight the Democrats’ climate bill without offering a credible alternative. “I’d suggest if they hope to do it on climate change, and focus a great deal on all their eggs in that basket, a yet to be clearly defined climate change response measure, that’d not be the wisest move they make. That’s not a clear path to majority status.”

Apparently, conservatives not only don’t care about the health and well-being of your children, they don’t even care about the health and well-being of their “movement,” as the Washington Post reports today in “Will GOP Sleep Through Wake-Up Call?”:

Weighing in on one side yesterday was Rush Limbaugh. “He’s not a moderate,” Limbaugh said of Specter. “He is a liberal Republican, and this is a natural winnowing process that is taking place. . . . Within the Republican Party, people who are not really Republicans are now leaving. People who are not really conservatives are now really leaving. So it’s going to be not much smaller, but it’s going to be a little bit more focused a party and a base.”

Good riddance, big tent!

Let’s just hope the party irreversibly self-destructs before civilization does.

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