Planet Gore

The Horner Chris-tal Ball

Seth Borenstein is not entirely alone in still foolishly playing the old game. He is joined by the Washington Post, which continues its contortions to blame President Bush for Kyoto’s failure here. For example, first the Post asserted that Bush “refused to ratify” the treaty. Ah, nice try, but that would be the Senate’s job actually, as they kindly allowed me to correct them.


This Sunday they regressed, editorializing that, well . . . um . . . then the U.S. actually refused to sign the treaty. Yeah, that’s the ticket.


OK. Whatever, people. Maybe some couch time will help deal with the looming terror of the forthcoming January 20 expiration date for this obsession with distracting from just telling us who did what (and “why” would also help). But the smarter among the media set have moved on — in fact, precisely as I predicted.


In several posts here on PG I noted how, once Kyoto can no longer be about George W. Bush, the media will pivot and begin asserting things in the “but, of course . . . ” vein, as if they’ve always been reporting things a certain way even though for seven years they refused to acknowledge, obfuscated, and even flat-out eh . . . misstated . . . certain inconvenient truths. My only mistake was to predict that they would wait until next month to do this.


I very specifically predicted the “But, of course the U.S. signed Kyoto but the Senate refused to consider/ratify it …” line in rationalizing why the urgency for radical climate action would dissipate once Bush was gone. That which was feverishly demanded of Bush just won’t be so big a deal as to require drastic measures like, say, demanding the same thing of a President Obama.


Sure enough, on cue, Greenwire published a story last week “Senate rules hover over post-Kyoto treaty talks.” Realllly? Senate rules are now relevant to treaties? Intrigued, I checked. There it was:

For the last eight years, foreign diplomats have fought fiercely with the Bush administration over global warming policy. And before that, the world was stunned when President Bill Clinton signed the 1997 Kyoto Protocol but made no effort to move it toward ratification because of crucial economic details that triggered unanimous Senate opposition.

Notice the gloss over what it is precisely those phony wars with Bush have been about . . . it was, ah, “global warming policy.” Hmm. That’s not what Nexis tells us (further exposing the sham of that euphemism, as I wrote in PG earlier, “Remember, Congress has had the option of imposing Kyoto-type legislation sans treaty for a decade — and certainly for the past [now 24] months while a Democratic majority has held the reins.”)


No, I have been told Kyoto was all about Bush rejecting it — flatly contradicted by this accurate telling of events — and otherwise he was the impediment to the U.S. joining an international deal, and it was critical we do this right away — oooh that man is so mean and reckless and as soon as he’s gone his successor will join up, we all know it, and have scheduled Copenhagen around it. Pant pant.


But Greenwire tells us:

Now, with President-elect Barack Obama pledging “a new chapter in America’s leadership” on climate, attention is focusing on the Senate.


With Obama, a whole new raft of questions have emerged — many of them elementary — about what his administration must do to navigate a mammoth hurdle: the two-thirds Senate majority needed for “advice and consent,” the deal maker or breaker for any treaty’s ratification. [NB: notice how this is a “new” question”. You don’t know whether to laugh or cry about these people].


“It’s right in the front of my mind,” said U.N. climate chief Yvo de Boer in an interview. “The big lesson from Kyoto for me is don’t ignore the U.S. Senate. Listen seriously to what the U.S. Senate considers is a deal that can fly.”


U.N. climate chief Yvo de Boer says the U.S. Senate is “right in the front of my mind” as he leads negotiations on a new global warming agreement. Photo by Darren Samuelsohn.


Mutsuyoshi Nishimura, special adviser to the Japanese Cabinet, agreed that foreign leaders are well aware of the role that the U.S. Senate must play in the larger international negotiations. “We are professionals,” he said. “We understand this is a very important process.”

That’s to say that, now, eh, let’s not be hasty. You know, a president *really* needs Congress’s concurrence and Senate approval. You *do* know that, of course. Because, I mean, all of us diplomats are fully aware.

How refreshing, this knowledge. So, why all of that earlier contradictory, nasty rhetoric, and where has this story been, other than predicted on Planet Gore?

The piece then condescendingly drones on – a tad defensively too, methinks – about how “about 40 Capitol Hill staffers are busy trying to explain the U.S. legislative process to international delegates, lawyers, environmentalists and anyone else who will listen.” We are told this is part of a year-long effort led by an aide to Kyotophile Republican senator Richard Lugar, by the way — who finally realized there may be some misunderstanding that might need clearing up. A little late — but apparently a few journalists would benefit from sitting through these sessions.


“President Obama will be like night and day compared to President Bush,” incoming Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee John Kerry vowed at the Poznan Kyoto talks. Obviously, he was simply telling us what we already know: treatment of the two by Europeans, the UN, and the media treatment will be like night and day.


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