Will the Party of No Foil the Half-Baked Greenhouse Machiavellis?

Many have already written the obituary for the Kerry-Lieberman bill and other cap-and-trade legislation in the current Congress. In today’s Politico, however, columnist Darren Samuelsohn quotes Sen. John Kerry’s rejection of that assessment: “No, it’s not dead because we’re going to have a lame duck session and we have weeks ahead of us.”

Re-read the first part of Kerry’s explanation. Kerry is saying that even if the Democratic leadership does not hold a vote on cap-and-trade before the November elections, fearing the wrath of the electorate, the greenhouse gang might still enact cap-and-trade after the elections, when voters could no longer hold them accountable.

How exactly would cap-and-traders pull it off? Samuelsohn summarizes the strategy as explained by an unnamed spokesman for a “major advocacy group”:

But one source from a major advocacy group said Wednesday that another option is for the Senate to pass a pared back energy measure now and then go to conference during a lame-duck session with the House-passed climate bill that includes greenhouse gas limits across multiple sectors of the economy. At that point, the source said, anything is possible.

Clever, but perhaps not clever enough. As Machievelli infamously advised princes long ago, one should not say to someone whom one wants to kill, “Give me your gun, I want to kill you with it,” but merely “Give me your gun,” for once you have the gun in hand, you can satisfy your desire.

Kerry, the unnamed advocacy group spokesman, and others have let the cat out of the bag. They are saying in effect, “Give us an energy bill, any energy bill, we want to snooker you with it to get cap-and-trade. We’ll conference any energy bill passed by the Senate with Waxman-Markey in a lame duck session, and neither you nor the American people will be able to stop us. Hah!”

Except that loose-lipped schemers are half-baked Machiavellians. The Party of No can and should have the last laugh. All Senate Rs have to do is resist the temptation to “do something.” They now have a compelling and easily explained reason to postpone further consideration of energy legislation until the next Congress. It is simply that the greenhouse gang, by its own admission, does not intend to play fair or respect the wishes of the electorate.

Rs who strongly feel the impulse to “do something” need merely wait until January 2011, when they are widely expected to hold more seats in both the House and Senate, and when Waxman-Markey will no longer be in play.