Recipe for a conservative revival
By George F. Will
Published: Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Happy days are not here again. But they are coming for conservatives. Barack Obama — with the lowest approval rating (according to Gallup, 50 percent, four points lower than that of the National Rifle Association) of any re-elected president when inaugurated since World War II — has a contradictory agenda certain to stimulate a conservative revival.
Consider his vow to expend political capital on climate change. The absurdity of the Kyoto approach — global climate treaties agreed to by 190 nations — is now obvious even to most former enthusiasts. Obama can propose cutting U.S. fossil fuel emissions (just 16 percent of the global total) with a carbon tax or cap-and-trade scheme but Congress will pass neither.
So he will be reduced to administrative gestures costly to job growth, and government spending — often crony capitalism — for green energy incommensurate with his rhetoric.
He says “the threat of climate change” is apparent in “raging fires,” “crippling drought” and “more powerful storms.” Are fires raging now more than ever? (There were a third fewer U.S. wildfires in 2012 than in 2006.) Are the number and severity of fires determined by climate change rather than forestry and land use practices? Is today's drought worse than, say, that of the Dust Bowl, and was it caused by 1930s global warming?
As for “more powerful storms”:
Because Sandy struck New York City, where the nation's media now congregate and participate in the city's provincialism, this storm was declared more cosmically momentous than the 74 other hurricanes that have hit or come near the city since 1800. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina was called a consequence of global warming and hence a harbinger of increasing numbers of Category 3 or higher hurricanes. Since then, major hurricane activity has plummeted. No Category 3 has hit the U.S. since 2005. Sandy was just a Category 1.
Obama's vow to adjust Earth's thermostat followed the report that 2012 was the hottest year on record in the contiguous 48 states. But The Wall Street Journal's Holman Jenkins, who has concisely posed the actual climate policy choice (“How much should we spend on climate change in order to have no effect on climate change?”), has noted that although 2012 was 2.13 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than 2011, “2008, in the contiguous U.S., was two degrees cooler than 2006.”
And “2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 were all cooler than 1998 by a larger margin than 2012 was hotter than 1998.” Such is the rigor of many who preen as devotees of science, they declared the 2012 temperatures in the contiguous states (1.58 percent of the Earth's surface) proof of catastrophic global warming.
A flourishing American economic sector is fossil fuels — especially oil and natural gas — which the Obama administration seems to regret and often impedes (see: fracking and the Keystone XL pipeline). Yet the natural gas boom is one of the main reasons why in 2012, U.S. fossil fuel emissions were the lowest since 1992.
Obama's wariness about the pipeline suggests that he subscribes to some environmentalists' stupendously weird theory: If the pipeline is not built to carry oil from the (supposedly dangerous) development of Canadian tar sands, Canada will leave those sands undeveloped rather than sell the oil to China.
In the rhetorical cotton candy of his inaugural address — sugary, and mostly air — Obama spoke of “investing in” rising generations, and said: “America's possibilities are limitless.” He ignores the encroaching limits imposed on the nation by his policies that are funded by debt that will burden those generations.
George F. Will is a columnist for The Washington Post and Newsweek.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins’ Orpik out, Neal to have phone hearing
- Steelers’ playoff hopes all but gone in loss to Dolphins
- Likely loss of Steelers draft pick looms because of Tomlin misstep
- Worst of winter storm expected to miss Pittsburgh
- Mid-Atlantic storm makes driving hazardous
- Rossi: Penguins’ Orpik among select NHLers going without gluten
- South Africans of all races, backgrounds pray for Mandela
- Penguins’ Orpik taken off ice on stretcher in loss to Bruins
- Nelson Mandela: The real legacy
- Startup aims to replace chicken, egg
- State police kill knife-wielding suspect in child abduction from Brentwood