Al Gore, in a must-read piece in Rolling Stone, thinks Obama has fallen down on the job on the issue of global warming.
President Obama has thus far failed to use the bully pulpit to make the case for bold action on climate change. After successfully passing his green stimulus package, he did nothing to defend it when Congress decimated its funding. After the House passed cap and trade, he did little to make passage in the Senate a priority. Senate advocates — including one Republican — felt abandoned when the president made concessions to oil and coal companies without asking for anything in return. He has also called for a massive expansion of oil drilling in the United States, apparently in an effort to defuse criticism from those who argue speciously that “drill, baby, drill” is the answer to our growing dependence on foreign oil. [...]
The real power of any president, as Richard Neustadt wrote, is “the power to persuade.” Yet President Obama has never presented to the American people the magnitude of the climate crisis. He has simply not made the case for action. He has not defended the science against the ongoing, withering and dishonest attacks. Nor has he provided a presidential venue for the scientific community — including our own National Academy — to bring the reality of the science before the public.
It’s true that Obama’s silence has come with a price. Over the past five years, the number of Americans that are skeptical about global warming has actually increased, and a new Yale study shows that only 13% of the public knows that an overwhelming consensus of scientists (97%) have concluded that climate change is real. That’s a tremendous victory for the Kochs and ExxonMobils of the world.
The charge Gore is leveling here against Obama is exactly the same one I made Monday about his failure to offer a clear alternative to Reaganism. And while he’s been quiet, the polluters and deniers keep spreading misinformation and the Republican Party keeps telling us that taxes are high and government is the root of all our problems.
If a Democratic President doesn’t lead on these issues, who will?