Arthur Christopher Schaper
US Senator Sheldon Whitehouse appeared on Fox News Sunday dismissing Congressional inaction on the Keystone Pipeline. Arguing that the Canadian tar sands will emit 20% more carbon into the air and adding very few jobs, Whitehouse had to acknowledge that the Obama Administration is leaning toward vetoing any legislation which would allow Keystone’s construction. If the Ocean State junior senator cares about rescuing his Democratic colleague Mary Landrieu’s chances, he might want to hold his nose and vote for it, or at least hope secretly that Obama signs off on the legislation.
It will be interesting to see what Whitehouse does when the bill comes to the floor of the US Senate. Will the climate change Senator walk the walk, and attempt to talk the bill to death? For a legislator who has given over sixty speeches on climate change, one would think that he would put his environmental logorrhea to use and stall the legislation. I am not counting on that. Aside from coastline visits with moderate Democrat Joe Manchin, and strong appeals to the global community to do what God Himself cannot, Whitehouse will complain, vote No, and then return to semi-retirement.
Still, Whitehouse is hoping that the White House will veto the bill, “sending that signal right off the bat.” What signal is that? Whitehouse elaborates:
I think the new Republican majority has long despised and denigrated this President. And if they can roll him, I think they would like to. I think it’s important that he sets the stage early, because the stakes are so high on the damage it can do to t
First of all, if this Republican majority is so new, then they haven’t had much time to despise this President or denigrate him. Furthermore, this folly, hollow talking point is the nadir of liberal talking points. “Republicans resist the President because they do not like him.” Soon-to-be Majority Leader Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has faulted the Obama Administration for their lack of maturity. He should extend the indictment to some of his illiberal colleagues. Differences of opinion on policy are neither personal, but ideological, professional, and certainly political. For the record, this new Republican Majority swept out of office five incumbent Democrats who had resisted Keystone and supported the President blanket pressure for amnesty, gun control, and other controversial policies widely rejected by the American voting public.
Chris Wallace asked Republican Senator John Thune why soon-to-be-Minority Leader Harry Reid is pushing this bill:
This is a cynical attempt to save the Senate seat in Louisiana. . .This bill is finally coming to the floor of the Senate, not because of the Democrats caring about saving American jobs, but saving the job of one US Senator from Louisiana.
Absolutely. Democrats are playing politics, after stalling for years on this project, but the outcome of the game is working in Republicans favor. A political vote puts the Democrats on the defense, and further solidify the ranks of the Red State Democrats to stand against their lame-duck President (Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, along with Joe Manchin of West Virginia and endangered incumbent Mary Landrieu). Liberal Democrats like Whitehouse and California’s Barbara Boxer will find their narrow interests marginalized.
For the record, Rhode Islanders are still contending with high unemployment, wasteful spending, crony capitalism (38 Studios), and recent terrorist threats against school children. Senator Whitehouse did allude to the Ocean State’s receding coastlines plus “weird fish” appearing in the state’s depleting fisheries. Yet for the last eight years, Whitehouse has delivered nothing credible nor bipartisan to improve the dwindling lot of Ocean State voters.
Not just the political pandering over Keystone, however, should arouse frustration, but the whole argument about climate charge alarmism. The Senator claims that his staff engage in extensive research on the subject, and then throw around the talking point of 97% of experts who agree that climate change is a dangerous, manmade phenomenon which the federal government must stop. A wide consensus does not establish the truth of any claim. For centuries, Medieval authorities academic and ecclesiastic, affirmed the “truth” that the earth was the center of the universe. Empirical evidence, research, and conclusions differed, with the powers that be threatening those academic dissidents with confinement or death. The “wrong” scientists were right, by the way, even though the accepted opinion had determined long ago otherwise.
More recently, though, the distortions of this debate have infected the language of the discussion. Not even five years ago, environmental activists were talking about global warming, and before that the cause celebre was ozone depletion. Why the change in rhetoric?
Jan Helfeld, political reported and Socratic seminarian, pressed this issue effectively with a K Street lobbyist. No one disputes climate change, because the weather is always changing, since the phrase begs the question from the outset. It’s two degrees warmer? Climate Change! Two degrees colder? Climate Change! Must do something now!
The American people rejected this agenda on Election Day, and the US Senate will vote Yes on Keystone, whether Senator Whitehouse or the White House like it or not.
Arthur Christopher Schaper is a teacher-turned-writer on topics both timeless and timely; political, cultural, and eternal. A life-long Southern California resident, Arthur currently lives in Torrance.