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THE DAILY ASTORIAN • MONDAY, DECEMBER 7, 2015
Republicans’ climate change denial denial
Founded in 1873
STEPHEN A. FORRESTER, Editor & Publisher
LAURA SELLERS, Managing Editor
BETTY SMITH, Advertising Manager
CARL EARL, Systems Manager
JOHN D. BRUIJN, Production Manager
By PAUL KRUGMAN
New York Times News Service
uture historians — if there are
any future historians — will
almost surely say that the most
important thing happening in the
world during December 2015 was
the climate talks in Paris.
True, nothing agreed to in Paris
be enough, by itself, to solve the
HEATHER RAMSDELL, Circulation Manager
problem of global warming.
But the talks could mark a turning
point, the beginning of the kind of inter-
national action needed to avert catastro-
they might not;
we may be
if we are, you
resident Obama’s Sunday televised address was what the know who will
nation needs to hear. The president’s words established the Republican
a perspective that is essential for moving forward out of Party.
OK, I know
strength, not fear.
the reaction of
It was especially important perversion of Islam” is being many readers:
that Obama reminded the na- carried out by a very small frac- How partisan!
How over the
tion of all the military action tion of the worldwide popula- top! But what I said is, in fact, the obvi-
that is presently underway in tion of Muslims.
ous truth. And the inability of our news
Syria. And it was essential that
It has always been absurd media, our pundits and our political es-
in general to face up to that
he explained the logic of why it that non-military people could tablishment
truth is an important contributing factor
would be stupid for America to acquire weapons that are meant to the danger we face.
Anyone who follows U.S. political
commit ground troops to Syria. for military use — assault weap-
We did that in Iraq and we know ons. It is shameful that too many debates on the environment knows that
Republican politicians overwhelming-
where it leads. Moreover, as in Congress are more in thrall of ly oppose any action to limit emissions
the president explained, a large WKH1DWLRQDO5LÀH$VVRFLDWLRQ¶V of greenhouse gases, and that the great
continent of American ground mistaken priority than they are PDMRULW\ UHMHFW WKH VFLHQWL¿F FRQVHQVXV
troops in Syria is exactly what in keeping Americans safe. The on climate change. Last year PolitiFact
FRXOG ¿QG RQO\ HLJKW 5HSXEOLFDQV LQ
ISIS wants to see.
president asked Congress once Congress, out of 278 in the caucus, who
In the days following 9/11, again to move on that front.
had made on-the-record comments ac-
one of the smartest and best
Britain taught us during cepting the reality of man-made global
And most of the contenders
things that President George World War II that a nation un- warming.
for the Republican presidential nomina-
W. Bush did was to remind der attack must not give in to tion are solidly in the anti-science camp.
What people may not realize, how-
Americans that it would be fear. We must emulate that ex-
is how extraordinary the GOP’s
wrong to persecute or discrimi- ample.
wall of denial is, both in the U.S. con-
nate against American Muslims
The president is right that text and on the global scene.
because of the attack on the ISIS is “on the wrong side of
I often hear from people claiming
World Trade Center. President history.” Moreover, there is no that the American left is just as bad as
Obama reasserted that essential- higher message in what they are WKHULJKWRQVFLHQWL¿FLVVXHVFLWLQJVD\
ly American concept — that we doing. They are, in the presi- or nuclear power. But even if you think
are a nation of many religions. dent’s words, “thugs and killers such views are really comparable to cli-
mate denial (which they aren’t), they’re
And that what he called “the — part of a cult of death.”
views held by only some people on
the left, not orthodoxies enforced on a
whole party by what even my conser-
vative colleague David Brooks calls the
And climate-denial orthodoxy
sensus is wrong. Senior Republican
members of Congress routinely indulge
n the wall of a confer- Italy. At the time, of course, it in wild conspiracy theories, alleging
ence room in our building took a great communicator like that all the evidence for climate change
is the product of a giant hoax perpetrat-
there is a framed front page Roosevelt to buoy his nation’s ed by thousands of scientists around the
of this newspaper from Sept. optimism and sell the belief that it world. And they do all they can to ha-
DEBRA BLOOM, Business Manager
We must not live
in fear of ISIS
Pearl Harbor Day has
meaning in 2015
11, 2001. Over a photo of the
burning World Trade Center is
a headline: “Day of Infamy.”
That headline was a direct borrow
from this day in history – Dec. 7,
1941 – also known as Pearl Harbor
Day. In the draft of President
Franklin Roosevelt’s speech to
a joint session of Congress, the
phrase is “A day that will live in
history.” Roosevelt crossed out
“history” and inserted “infamy.”
If you travel to Pearl Harbor,
you will see tangible evidence of
that awful moment when waves
of Japanese war planes sprayed
bullets and dropped bombs on
It is easy for us — 74 years
later — to see Pearl Harbor in
the larger context of American
resourcefulness and industri-
al might that defeated the Axis
powers of Japan, Germany and
eventually would triumph.
There is a lesson in that for
America in 2015. The threat of ter-
rorism in the Middle East, Europe
and the U.S. easily strikes fear in
the heart of many Americans. But
as FDR reminded the nation on
another occasion, “The only thing
we have to fear is fear itself.”
Presidential candidates who
are selling fear-based strategies
do this nation no good. They also
sell America and the courage of
The urge right now to de-
monize all Americans who are
Muslims is the worst sort of dem-
agoguery. Pandering to fear is not
Basing life on fear is not
healthy for a person or for a na-
tion. The persistence of courage
was the best response to Pearl
Exxon gets it; GOP doesn’t
Clippings from the press of the
o one would confuse the
oil and gas giant with the
Sierra Club. But if you visit
Exxon’s website , you will
¿QG WKDW WKH FRPSDQ\ EHOLHYHV
climate change is real, that
governments should take action
to combat it and that the most
sensible action would be a reve-
nue-neutral tax on carbon — in
other words, a tax on oil, gas
and coal, with the proceeds re-
turned to taxpayers for them to
spend as they choose.
But to today’s Republicans,
self-evident views are akin to
heresy. Donald Trump, the lead-
ing GOP presidential candidate,
says, “I don’t believe in climate
change.” Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.)
says, “Climate change is not sci-
ence, it’s religion.” Sen. Marco
Rubio (Fla.) at the moment
seems to acknowledge that cli-
mate change might be real but
opposes any action to deal with
— Fred Hiatt in The
Francois Mori/AP Photo
Anne Hidalgo , mayor of Paris, center, poses for a group picture with
Michael R. Bloomberg U.N. Secretary General’s Special Envoy for
Cities and Climate Change, with mayors from various cities during
a meeting with Mayors at Paris city Hall as part of the COP21, United
Nations Climate Change Conference, in Paris, Friday.
rass and intimidate individual scientists. it won’t last, that the party will start
In a way, this is part of a long tra- talking sense any day now. (And they
dition: Richard Hofstadter’s famous ZLOORIFRXUVH¿QGUHDVRQVWRVXSSRUW
essay “The Paranoid Style in American whatever climate-denier the GOP nom-
Politics” was published half a century inates for president.)
Everything we know about the pro-
ago. But having that style completely
take over one of our two major parties cess that brought Republicans to this
point says that this is pure fantasy. But
is something new.
It’s also something with no counter- it’s a fantasy that will cloud public per-
More important, probably, is the de-
It’s true that conservative parties
across the West tend to be less favor- nial inherent in the conventions of polit-
able to climate action than parties to ical journalism, which say that you must
their left. But in most countries — ac- always portray the parties as symmetric
— that any report on ex-
tually, everywhere except
treme positions taken by
America and Australia
one side must be framed
— these parties nonethe-
in a way that makes it
less support measures to
sound as if both sides do
limit emissions. And U.S.
Republicans are unique How over it. We saw this on bud-
get issues, where some
in refusing to accept that
the top! self-proclaimed centrist
there is even a problem.
commentators, while crit-
Unfortunately, given the
importance of the United States, the ex- icizing Republicans for their absolute
tremism of one party in one country has refusal to consider tax hikes, also made
a point of criticizing President Barack
enormous global implications.
By rights, then, the 2016 election Obama for opposing spending cuts that
should be seen as a referendum on that he actually supported. My guess is that
extremism. But it probably won’t be climate disputes will receive the same
reported that way. Which brings me to treatment.
But I hope I’m wrong, and I’d urge
what you might call the problem of cli-
everyone outside the climate-denial
mate denial denial.
Some of this denial comes from bubble to frankly acknowledge the awe-
moderate Republicans, who do still ex- some, terrifying reality. We’re looking at
LVW²MXVWQRWLQHOHFWHGRI¿FH7KHVH a party that has turned its back on science
moderates may admit that their party at a time when doing so puts the very
has gone off the deep end on the cli- future of civilization at risk. That’s the
mate issue, but they tend to argue that truth, and it needs to be faced head-on.
No, Donald Trump won’t win the race
until then they are busy with
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life and work and just glanc-
the mentality shifts. The
ing at the campaign. If you
question is no longer, What
shiny object makes me feel
little while ago I went rug ask them which candidate
good? The question is, Who
they support, that question
do I need at this moment to
may generate an answer, but
)RXUUXJVZHUHODLGRXWRQWKHÀRRU that doesn’t mean they are
do the job? Different sorts of
and among them was one with a pink actually committed to elect-
decision-making styles kick
motif that was dazzlingly beautiful. It ing the name they happen to
For example, there are
was complex and sophisticated.
two contrasting types of de-
Over at the FiveThirtyE-
If you had asked me at that moment ight blog, Nate Silver looked
which rug I wanted, I would have said at campaign-related Google
the pink one.
searches in past years in the weeks be- If you’re choosing a marriage partner,
7KLV FRQYLFWLRQ ODVWHG DERXW ¿YH fore the Iowa caucuses. Until a week or you probably want to maximize. You
PLQXWHV%XWWKHQP\PHQWDOLW\ÀLSSHG two before the caucuses very few peo- ZDQWWR¿QGWKHYHU\EHVWSHUVRQ\RX
and I started asking some questions. ple are doing any serious investigations are totally in love with. You’ll need
Would the furniture go with this rug? of the candidates. Then just before and that passion to fuse you two together
Would this rug clash with the wall after the caucuses voters get engaged so you can survive the tough times.
You want somebody who can inspire
hangings? Would I get tired of its elec- and Google searches surge.
Silver produced a chart showing and be a messenger to your best future.
But politics is not like that. Politics
Suddenly a subtler and more prosaic what this year’s polling would look like
blue rug grabbed center stage. The rugs if we actually took the current levels of is a prosaic activity most of the time.
had not changed, but suddenly I wanted casual attention and uncertainty seri- <RXSUREDEO\ZDQWWRVDWLV¿FHSLFNWKH
the blue rug. The pink rug had done an ously. In that chart “Undecided” had 80 person who’s good enough, who seems
excellent job of being eye-popping on percent support. Trump had 5 percent reasonably responsible.
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its own. The blue rug was doing an ex- support; Carson, 4; Cruz, 3; and Rubio,
month, voters tend to gravitate toward
cellent job of being a rug I could enjoy 2.
That’s about the best description the person who seems most orderly. As
For many Republi-
of where the Republican the primary season advances, voters’
tolerance for risk declines. They focus
cans, Donald Trump is
race is right now.
their pink rug. He does the
Just because voters on the potential downsides of each con-
job that they want done at
DUHQ¶W PDNLQJ ¿QDO GHFL- tender and wonder, Could this person
WKLV PRPHQW +H UHÀHFWV traits that sions doesn’t mean they make things even worse?
When this mental shift happens, I
their disgust with the po-
are passive. They’re in the
litical establishment. He
dressing room. They’re suspect, Trump will slide. All the traits
gives them the pleasur- charming WU\LQJRQGLIIHUHQWRXW¿WV that seem charming will suddenly seem
able sensation that some-
0RVWRIWKHPDUH¿QGLQJ risky. The voters’ hopes for transforma-
body can come to Wash-
they like a lot of different tion will give way to a fear of chaos.
When the polls shift from registered
ington, kick some tail and
shake things up.
Human beings have voters to likely voters, cautious party
multiple selves. The mind loyalists will make up a greater share of
is a journey, not an early
dances from this module those counted.
The voting booth focuses the mind.
December snapshot. It
to that module. When
goes in stages.
Montaigne tried to de- The experience is no longer about
The campaign may
scribe his mind, he wrote, self-expression and feeling good in the
seem old, but we are still in the casual “I cannot keep my subject still. It goes PRPHQW ,W¶V DERXW WKH ¿QJHU RQ WKH
attention stage. Every four years poll- along befuddled and staggering, with nuclear trigger for the next four years.
sters ask Iowa and New Hampshire a natural drunkenness.” In one mood In an era of high anxiety, I doubt Re-
voters when they made up their minds. Trump seems pretty attractive to some SXEOLFDQYRWHUVZLOOWDNHDÀLHURQWKHLU
Roughly 70 or 80 percent make up their people. In another it’s Carson, or Cruz party’s future — or their country’s fu-
PLQGVLQWKH¿QDOPRQWKRIWKHUDFH8S or Rubio.
By DAVID BROOKS
New York Times News Service