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How the Senate Climate Bill Died

The IntersectionBy Chris MooneyOctober 4, 2010 4:23 AM


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There's an intense piece in the latest New Yorker about the valiant attempt by Senators John Kerry, Joe Lieberman, and Lindsay Graham to be real statesmen on climate change, and how questionable moves by the Obama administration (and by Harry Reid, and by John McCain) killed their left-right alliance--and with it, perhaps one of the best chances we had to save the climate. It's a really long read, but it's also really worth it. Final conclusion:

Kerry, Graham, and Lieberman were not alone in their belief that transforming the economy required coöperation, rather than confrontation, with industry. American Presidents who have attempted large-scale economic transformation have always had their efforts tempered—and sometimes neutered—by powerful economic interests. Obama knew that, too, and his Administration had led the effort to find workable compromises in the case of the bank bailouts, health-care legislation, and Wall Street reform. But on climate change Obama grew timid and gave up, leaving the dysfunctional Senate to figure out the issue on its own. As the Senate debate expired this summer, a longtime environmental lobbyist told me that he believed the “real tragedy” surrounding the issue was that Obama understood it profoundly. “I believe Barack Obama understands that fifty years from now no one’s going to know about health care,” the lobbyist said. “Economic historians will know that we had a recession at this time. Everybody is going to be thinking about whether Barack Obama was the James Buchanan of climate change.”

Ouch. Harsh. I'm not sure I think it's fair, but, you have to read the piece to make up your mind. You can read the full article, by Ryan Lizza, here.

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