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Bush and the "New Environmentalism"

By A. M. Siriano
web posted October 17, 2005

It came as no surprise to me that columnist Dick Morris, in a recent editorial, urged President Bush to go with the "coming green revolution," but also no big shocker that, in the same editorial, he counseled Al Gore to consider running in 2008 (as if Gore hasn't thought of it at least once every waking hour over the last five years), or that he advised Hillary Clinton to make environmentalism her pet issue.

Morris is no more a conservative than he is a liberal, which is why he seems at times a double-agent for the right and the left. For example, he is an unabashed Clintons-basher, but hardly remorseful for his part of the Clintons' legacy of decadence and neglect. He has extolled George W. Bush for being a "smooth operator " and commended him for fighting terrorists, but was one of the first to call the campaign in Iraq a "disaster."

Little of this is driven by ideology. Morris is a strategist, a gamester. He is not always correct in his analyses, but he is not one to be ignored either. He loves the game too much for that.

Now Morris is telling Bush that greenism is growing like a weed in this country (all puns intended) and he had better run with it. This makes me think that Morris should give a fresh shine to his crystal ball, that perhaps it is clouded by latent liberalism from the Clinton era. Apparently he has bought into the junk science of man-made global warming, which allows for no dissent among liberals. He might as well be taking his cues from Barbara Streisand when he says,

People realize that the key is to stem the addiction [to oil] by converting to alternative fuels rather than to temporize by seeking new oil fields. And they get that even if we find more oil we will still find ourselves slowly destroying our planet and rather quickly energizing hurricanes and other weather catastrophes.

Huh? Has Morris gone moon-batty? Well, not likely. Morris is not concerned with the truth of what people "get," but that they get it. The question is, are more people really getting these "truths" or is he spending too much time in green-happy blue states?

There is little doubt that too many people are thinking irrationally green, simply because the large majority of them believe whatever they hear repeatedly. Remember when pollutants were blocking sunlight and creating a giant greenhouse effect? That was the 80's. In the 90's the opposite was detected: too much sunlight was coming through. But by that time, our global greenhouse was a reality to people the world over, created by all those nasty corporations. The leftists suddenly had a new hook in their obsessive drive to control people, and to unseat their enemies. The truth was beside the point.

Morris is simply going with his gut here, of course, saying to politicians on both sides: Seize the day! You can worry about truth later. Make the green issue your own and you will succeed.

But Morris goes too far. Regardless of a growing atmosphere of Machiavellianism in this country (liberals embrace it openly, conservatives deal in it reluctantly), truth still matters. Morris goes on to accuse President Bush of being "incapable of responding to the new environmentalism" and perpetuates the misperception that the Bush family's Big Oil connections drive all of their politics. Meanwhile, the pro-environment policies of the present administration go largely unnoticed and outright denied. Rather than urging the President to go green, why doesn't Morris use his influence to tell the world just how green-conscious Bush really is?

The Bush administration is pushing for all the things Morris is saying he should push, but what chance does Bush have in claiming them? Little or none in a media ruled by liberals and naysayers. According to Morris, "Other than California's Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), nobody has staked out the need to switch to hydrogen, wind, biofuels and solar energy as alternatives to oil dependency." Has Morris spent any time lately with the enormous amount of information at the Department of Energy? Has he heard of the Energy Policy Act, which offers incentives to companies and buyers to steer toward hybrids and fuel-efficient trucks?

Al Gore is seen by many to be the true champion of environmentalism and energy awareness, but his advocacy is laced with kookiness and a track record that shows little more than words. But were he to make it through the next Primaries, the media would be painting him as defender of a soon-to-be hydrogenized people and the bane of Big Oil (with no mention of his own family's connection to Occidental Petroleum and other large corporations).

And so, the myth of Republican antagonism toward the environment continues, even though great strides in environmental protection has occurred under Republican leadership, notably with Nixon and Reagan, but also with Bush I and Bush II. Americans, whether left or right, are no more eager to say no to alternative fuel sources than they are ready to give up their cars. Our present sensible administration knows this, and believes that progress with energy and the environment can be made within a framework of good policy that protects our ideals and the economy (the opposite was true during the Clinton years, when bad policy, applied willy-nilly, limited progress for the sake of bowing to the rising religion of environmentalism). In the meantime, President Bush quietly applies pressure, via the Department of Energy and other organizations, to find solutions as fast as possible.

Does Morris propose that Bush, in the process of jumping on the green bandwagon, return us to a Clinton-style environmentalism, which had us more concerned with owls, lizards and insects than people? Or does greenism mean something else to him? If so, perhaps it means what the Bush administration is already doing, which is to safeguard our present natural resources without ignoring our national sovereignty, while at the same time looking to the future for answers.

(c) 2005 A. M. Siriano

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