Obama Finally Campaigns on Climate Change (for Someone Else)

A theme that I’ve visited frequently in the past is the illegitimacy of President Obama’s climate agenda. To recap, Obama ran away from climate change during his reelection campaign. In the second presidential debate, Obama actually tried to outflank Romney’s right on energy. That Obama—the one trying to get elected—was pro fossil fuel (even coal!), and he avoided speaking about climate change. Only after he was elected to a second term did he made climate change a priority. Obama’s flip flop bothers me because it makes a mockery of administrative accountability. The Obama model is to fool the American public to gain a second term, and then harness the power of the state (“by phone or pen”) to carry out an agenda that was untested by voters.

So it was with a jaundiced eye that I read that the President made climate change the central issue in his first campaign stop with the Democratic Party nominee Hillary Clinton. Reports E&E Daily’s Jennifer Yachnin:

President Obama yesterday took aim at presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's skepticism of climate science, asserting that putting “climate deniers” in the White House will “doom our kids to a more dangerous world.”

Obama made the remarks – in which he did not identify Trump by name – in his first campaign appearance with presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton when the duo addressed a rally in Charlotte, N.C.

The president, who first endorsed the former Secretary of State last month, praised Clinton for supporting policies including equal pay and family leave while also criticizing Trump for a lack of detailed policy proposals.

“Even the Republicans on the other side don't really know what the guy is talking about,” Obama said.

He then launched into a criticism of Trump's skepticism of climate science – which Trump has already called a “hoax” and “bullshit” – while touting his administration's environmental policies.

“You can go the path that denies climate change is real or you can choose a path where American jobs and businesses lead the world in combating it,” Obama said. “In the last seven years, we have doubled renewable energy in this country. Remember when we were all concerned about our dependence on foreign oil? Well, let me tell you, we've cut the amount of oil we buy from other countries in half.”

He added: “Remember when the other team was promising they were going to get gas prices down in, like, 10 years? We did it. We did it. So we've been able to shape an energy policy that's good for families, good for your pocketbook.”

Two things jump out at me when I read this passage. First, it’s an Alanis Morrissette-worthy irony that Obama is only willing to campaign on climate change when someone else is running for president. Second, Obama contradicts himself when he takes credit for low gas prices in the same breath that he claims climate change is the greatest threat to mankind. Of course, the “solution” to global warming is to make fossil fuels more expensive. This is not the first time Obama has taken credit for low fossil fuel prices at the same time he warned about the dangers of climate change.