President Obama’s foreign policy speech to West Point graduates Wednesday leveled a serious charge against Republicans who deny human-induced climate change: You’re threatening national security.
Check out the progression of the few climate sentences in Obama’s wide-ranging remarks. He starts by telling the grads that battling global warming requires global cooperation. Then he says climate change is “a creeping national security crisis that will help shape your time in uniform, as we’re called on to respond to refugee flows, natural disasters, and conflicts over water and food.”
OK, that’s worrisome, and that security message sets up Obama’s pitch for trying to reach a United Nations-brokered climate accord at a make-or-break 2015 meeting in Paris: “That’s why, next year, I intend to make sure America is out front in a global framework to preserve our planet.”
Then Obama looks at the U.S. role, and here’s where the speech includes what looks like a subtle pitch for imminent EPA regulations to cut power plants’ carbon emissions: “You see, American influence is always stronger when we lead by example. We cannot exempt ourselves from the rules that apply to everyone else,” Obama says.
The remarks arrive just a few days before EPA (and maybe Obama himself) unveils first-time carbon-pollution standards for existing power plants. Obama’s “influence” line is another version of what Obama told The New Yorker months ago about domestic action giving the U.S. leverage with China and India, the world’s largest and third-largest emitters (the U.S. is No. 2).
Finally, we get to a thinly veiled jab at the GOP: “We can’t call on others to make commitments to combat climate change if so many of our political leaders deny that it is taking place.”
Run it backwards: GOP climate skepticism is a roadblock to global cooperation on the “creeping” national security crisis that these graduates will face.
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Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”
“We haven’t seen a true leftist since FDR, so many millions are coming out of the woodwork to vote for Bernie Sanders; he is the Occupy movement now come to life in the political arena.” So says Bill Maher in his Hollywood Reporter cover story (more a stream-of-consciousness riff than an essay, actually). Conservative states may never vote for a socialist in the general election, but “this stuff has never been on the table, and these voters have never been activated.” Maher saves most of his bile for Donald Trump and Sarah Palin, writing that by nominating Palin as vice president “John McCain is the one who opened the Book of the Dead and let the monsters out.” And Trump is picking up where Palin left off.