The King of Denial
My second favorite secular observation is this: man is the only creature who can lie to himself. The observation has life-application across-the-board and especially—and sadly—in politics.
In this case, the observation has to do with the President’s speech today, a veritable smorgasbord of densely packed assertions, which included the following:
Cap-and-trade was originally proposed by conservatives and Republicans as a market-based solution to solving environmental problems. The first president to talk about cap-and-trade was George H.W. Bush. Now you’ve got the other party essentially saying we shouldn’t even be thinking about environmental protection; let’s gut the EPA.
We shouldn’t even be thinking about environmental protection? Can I get a shout out for all the straw men out there? (I now pause while I hold my hand to my ear and lean forward towards my audience.)
My hypothesis is that the President is lying to himself. I consider that to be less dishonorable than lying to us, which is also a possibility (as is a some combination of self-deception and attempted mass deception, I suppose).
But going back to the quote, the George H.W. Bush presidency, as Ezra Klein could tell us after a quick Wikipedia search, ended in January 1993. As such, a call for a market-based solution would have been made in the general context of ignorance: that is, the bogus and non-science of “manmade climate change” was not much known in the era of Bush the Elder. It is now.
Similarly, no one from the George H.W. Bush Administration likely thought through the potentially catastrophic costs (a 2010 Senate bill would slash GDP up to $2.1 trillion) of cap-and-trade, nor the job losses (a 2009 House bill would create, by one estimate, 2.3 to 2.7 million job losses per year for multiple years, through 2030).
Quibbling, I recall from an honor code context, is this:
To evade the truth or importance of an issue by raising trivial distinctions and objections.
While the President can make jokes about his Biden-like missile defense gaffe, his Administration will find more policy success if they quit avoiding the truth and deal with issues honestly, whether it’s the federal budget, entitlements, taxes, the deficit, foreign policy, national security, or energy. Do I expect this to occur? No.
As it is, everything is about getting reelected, which entails finding scapegoats for the Administration’s own shortfalls, running away from the President’s record, and building—and burning—straw men, with malice and forethought.