I mentioned yesterday the fashionable lines being bandied about as the Poznan COP gets underway. Today’s is the idea of “renew[ing] America’s standing in the world as a force for positive change,” in the phrasing of Secretary of State-designate Hillary Clinton at her Monday unveiling.
Kyoto is the highest-profile policy typically cited by these forces of restoration, and is certainly the one about which The One has expressed his intention to do something. So here’s a refresher as to who actually trashed our reputation via Kyoto – if indeed that is what certain people sincerely believe, as opposed to using it as an excuse for certain attitudes and behavior, which I believe you will conclude is the case after this English-to-English translation.
The U.S. agreed to, then signed, a treaty that a unanimous Senate, exercising its constitutional prerogative, instructed the executive not to agree to.
Having affixed our signature to a pact that would never gain Senate ratification, the executive never bothered asking that it be ratified, for the obvious reason that it knew full well what it had done.
Who, in this accurate portrayal of events, acted so as to jeopardize our standing? Obviously, the irresponsible actions of an executive were at fault. No one is blaming the unanimous, bipartisan Senate, even though there is also nothing in the Constitution or law blocking them from nonetheless voting on the signed pact. Yet no one blames the executive — one William Jefferson Clinton — who acted so recklessly, either. In fact, none of the relevant actors are apparently responsible for the alleged diminution of our standing in the world, which nonetheless we are told was a result of the U.S. not adopting a treaty it agreed to.
No, all blamed the next executive — George W. Bush, who took office more than three years after his predecessor ignored the unanimous Senate and put our reputation in jeopardy – for the sin of reaffirming his predecessor’s decision to not bother asking the Senate to ratify Kyoto. They made up stories about how he “formally rejected” (Really? Where’s the instrument?) or “withdrew from” (impossible) the never-ratified treaty. For several years the spicy little detail was tossed in, that the March 2001 affirmation of intention is what “squandered post-9/11 goodwill” . . . six months in advance of the attacks, somehow. Game, set, match for “excuse.”
Now, flash forward, as we prepare to pursue a policy agenda in the name of restoring our image, the tarnishing of which no one can actually explain in any way that withstands comparison with the facts. Which is entirely consistent with the entire Kyoto enterprise, being no more than a “solution” of an agenda in search of a problem.