There was a time when even a conservative politician could take a stand on climate change action. That was before science became the enemy of the right, and before John McCain, in his desperate attempt to cast himself as the lion of the Senate, became the lapdog of the GOP.
On any number of issues, the "maverick" John McCain of pre-election 2008 now seems an odd anachronism in this world of bitterly polarized, divisive politics. To listen to McCain now, you'd think the self-described maverick of just a few years ago was another person. Maybe he doesn't remember, since he now claims he was never a maverick at all. In fact, he doesn't remember a lot of his closely held convictions.
It stands to reason, sadly, that he'd tuck his tail between his legs and run from his former conviction on climate change. When asked a seemingly sincere and earnest question while stumping last March for Senatorial candidate Kelly Ayotte in Nashua, Hew Hampshire, the new McCain threw the old McCain (along with climate science) under the bus:
"I think it’s an inexact science, and there has been more and more questioning about some of the conclusions that were reached concerning climate change," McCain said. "And I believe that everybody in the world deserves correct answers whether the scientific conclusions were flawed by outside influences. There’s great questions about it that need to be resolved.”
Great questions to be resolved? Really? And what are those questions, Mr. McCain? Let your masters take it from here.
Despite repeated investigations into "Climategate" the GOP has vowed, if they win back Congress this November, to continue beating the drum of Climategate, apparently until they get the answer they want, truth and reality be damned. It's about votes, baby, and kowtowing to their fossil energy bosses. So get in line McCain.
Contrast his recent statement with his former self:
Unequivocally I believe that [global warming] is real,” McCain said in 2007, adding, correctly, that “much more violent weather patterns that are going to—and then of course that increases the disasters that befall countries like Bangladesh.”
As Joe Romm recently said in his blog ClimateProgress:
Sadly, now that Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh have faced catastrophic floods of an unprecedented scale during the hottest year ever recorded, McCain is a global warming skeptic. The Straight Talk Express has derailed into the Tea Party abyss.
As much as I abhor the flat-earth, unshakable denial and distortion of the likes of James Inhofe, at least he is a known quantity. His deceitful attempts to discredit climate science are long-standing and unchanging. Nobody with any real curiosity about the climate issue needs to ask Inhofe were he stands.
But there may still be some people that believe in McCain's "independence" - like the man questioning him in Nashua last spring. Instead of getting a reasonable response he was fed a line handed down, essentially, from McCain's political masters.
As the reality of climate change continues to show clearly we are on the wrong path, with the forces of disinformation, greed, and dishonesty making ever greater inroads into the public psyche, the last thing we need is a false prophet of reason. It's time to face reality square in the face and get on with it.
I never thought I'd hear myself say this, but I'd take James Inhofe over the current incarnation of John McCain any day. Inhofe is clearly a fool. I'm not sure what McCain is. I know what he isn't: the lion of the Senate.