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Waterboarding and Climate Change

Collide-a-ScapeBy Keith KloorMay 9, 2011 4:17 PM


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Those two terms don't have much in common unless you're a 2012 Republican Presidential candidate running away from your prior positions on torture and the environment. I'm referring to former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, or T-Paw as he's known in his home state. Via Andrew Sullivan (who is all over Dick Cheney for claiming torture helped track down Bin Laden), I see that T-Paw has had a change of heart on waterboarding. According to Politico, here's what he said during last week's Republican Presidential debate:

"I support the use of enhanced interrogation techniques in limited circumstances," he said, revising his position from two years ago when he declined to endorse waterboarding, citing the "damage it causes not only to the individual but to our values more broadly."

The torture conversion appears to be less problematic for Pawlenty than his reversal on climate change. As the NYT reports, he was taken to task by the debate moderator for his previous support of cap and trade, prompting Pawlenty to beg for forgiveness:

"I've said I was wrong. It was a mistake, and I'm sorry," Mr. Pawlenty told the Fox television audience, presumably filled with potential Republican primary voters. "You're going to have a few clunkers in your record, and we all do, and that's one of mine. I just admit it. I don't try to duck it, bob it, weave it, try to explain it away. I'm just telling you, I made a mistake."

Were it that simple. As this New Hampshire political blogger notes,

Pawlenty didn't just talk the talk when it came to climate change. He walked the walk. In 2007, T-Paw signed Minnesota's Next Generation Act into law, requiring the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 15 percent by 2015 and 80 percent by 2050. He also was a leading proponent of the Midwestern Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord (MGGRA).

Consequently, Minnesota conservatives, like this one, aren't in a forgiving mood:

Ever listen to Pawlenty talk about energy? He likes to stick to the "drill baby drill" concept when he's on FoxNews, because that's what the right likes to hear. But if you live in the state of Minnesota, you know good ol' T Paw has a lot of "green" flowing through his veins. In fact, I'm pretty sure his blood is green.

It's pretty amazing to think that only three years ago, the leading Republican Presidential candidate said this:

"Instead of idly debating the precise extent of global warming, or the precise timeline of global warming, we need to deal with the central facts of rising temperatures, rising waters, and all the endless troubles that global warming will bring," he said at a Vestas wind turbine manufacturing plant in Oregon, where the environment is a central issue for voters. "We stand warned by serious and credible scientists across the world that time is short and the dangers are great."

Here's McCain in 2007:

It's inconceivable that any leading Republican candidate in the 2012 Presidential race will be talking like that about climate change.

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