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How Iraq and climate change threw the right into disarray
January 23, 2007 10:48 AM   Subscribe

How Iraq and climate change threw the right into disarray.
posted by stbalbach (42 comments total)

 
Most people's first reactions to new political issues are instinctive. In 2003, the kind of people going on anti-war marches - or warning of impending climate doom - looked to many right-wingers like the same people who had been wrong about everything else for the past 25 years. They were the people warning the world was running out of oil in the 1970s; who opposed privatisation in the 1980s and marched against the first Gulf war in 1991. They were the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament crowd; the "East Germany has solved the housing problem" crowd; the "we are all going to die of mad-cow disease" crowd. They were earnest men in cardigans and fierce women in sensible shoes.

Straw man, much, anonymous author at the FT?

I expected some radical lefty here -- instead I get a hardcore rightist saying that Republicans are wrong, because those fucking dirty hippies happened to get it right on two things.

Blech.
posted by teece at 10:53 AM on January 23, 2007


Speaking of climate change, the "Minority Blog" at the Senate Committee on the Environment page is a riot, especially the Weather Channel brouhaha entries about halfway down the page. I can't believe these semi-literate dolts were ever in charge.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 10:59 AM on January 23, 2007


teece, don't act so hostile toward the Party of Ideas.
posted by rxrfrx at 10:59 AM on January 23, 2007


They were earnest men in cardigans and fierce women in sensible shoes.

That is a beautiful, beautiful description.
posted by tkolar at 11:04 AM on January 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Ah, the financial times playing damage control - nevermind the fact that the right's continual masturbatory zeal regarding "free markets," aka, corporate oligarchies fucking up the world, not just with free rein and zero accountability, but with intentional, violent, governmental proctectionism, has caused climate change, geopolitical instability, et al...
posted by stenseng at 11:09 AM on January 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


the Right was wrong about Vietnam, but according to this guy's "analysis" they ruled the debate for the next 30 years anyway. what a shallow, lame piece of crap
posted by matteo at 11:12 AM on January 23, 2007


Conservatives triumphed because they got the two big issues of the era right: they were in favour of free markets and against communism.

I wasn't aware that a winner had been chosen regarding the free market debate. They should really have an awards show or something.
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 11:13 AM on January 23, 2007


and let's use "global warming", not the sad attempt at framing that is "climate change".
posted by matteo at 11:13 AM on January 23, 2007


Liberals in the US red-baited as much as republicans.
posted by empath at 11:19 AM on January 23, 2007


They get it about right, from the perspective of a conservative paper watching the rug slowly pulled out from under them.
posted by caddis at 11:22 AM on January 23, 2007


Speaking from cardigans...
posted by hal9k at 11:27 AM on January 23, 2007


I've simply been right about everything, and it is time The Guardian fessed up to the fact.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:29 AM on January 23, 2007


They were earnest men in cardigans and fierce women in sensible shoes.

This says so much more about anyone who thinks this than it does about the people it attempts to describe.
posted by hermitosis at 11:31 AM on January 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


and let's use "global warming", not the sad attempt at framing that is "climate change".

As a maybe irrelevant aside.... I know that the term "climate change" was coined by the abhorrent frank luntz, but lately I have come to think that maybe we lucked out on this one. Ie, "climate change" is actually a productive way of framing the issue.

Why I think this: global warming can and will cause climate change, in that some places might get colder and dryer. And, counter-intuitively, global warming causes increased precipitation, including more snow, because the warmer air is capable of holding more moisture.

For the mouth-breathers, who are incapable of thinking counter-intuitively, snow in denver somehow "disproves" global warming (I'm looking at you, fox news.). Framing it as climate change might help imply/promote the idea that the result of global warming is unpredictable weather patterns, higher energy weather systems, and more harsh weather in general (including tornadoes and hurricanes), not just.... warmer temperatures so that we can swim in november.

Just my two cents... though I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on this Matteo because who knows I could be dead wrong.
posted by crackingdes at 11:33 AM on January 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


the right was also wrong when it came to balancing the budget (which they plain lied about) and having a more efficient government (hurricane katrina) ... and much of their program hasn't even been accepted by the american people

no, it's time to list all the faults, not just a couple
posted by pyramid termite at 11:34 AM on January 23, 2007


It was a Henley, dammit!
posted by cog_nate at 11:37 AM on January 23, 2007


Most people's first reactions to new political issues are instinctive.

... and their second reactions, and third, and fourth ...


Conservatives triumphed because they got the two big issues of the era right: they were in favour of free markets and against communism.

Were conservatives ever really in favor of free markets? More like crony capitalism. There's a difference.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 11:38 AM on January 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


wrong about everything

From someone who's apparently wrong about the meaning of "wrong".
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:39 AM on January 23, 2007


they were in favour of free markets and against communism.


I always felt that when Teh Right used the phrase "Free Markets" they were not referring to actual free markets in any kind of economic or legislative sense but rather to markets open to Western/American business. In which case they can argue that they were right about "free markets" in that this makes a lot of money for America.
posted by spicynuts at 11:40 AM on January 23, 2007


Seems like the main reason the right was against climate change was simply to piss off the left, because that was "there" issue.

Goes to show you why tribal or "team" politics can be a really, really bad idea.
posted by delmoi at 11:43 AM on January 23, 2007


It will be up to the right to show that growth and greenery can be reconciled.

This line made me laugh out loud. Gore has been trying to get this point across, as well as the fact of Global Warming, since his days in Congress. Sure would be nice if we had listened to his fundamental proposition, which was that by directing American industry towards greener practices and technology, we would be giving ourselves an edge in the more environment conscious markets of the future.

Most of the former naysayers now jumping on the anti-Iraq war and climate change bandwagon, seem to be doing so with the express purpose of digging in their heels and slowing it down.
posted by Manjusri at 11:52 AM on January 23, 2007


and let's use "global warming", not the sad attempt at framing that is "climate change".

Al Gore, on the daily show said we should call it "The Climate Catastrophe" which sounds rather alarmist. I prefer the more technical term "Anthropogenic Climate Change"
posted by delmoi at 11:53 AM on January 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


I disagree with this guy's conclusions, too, but this article is worthwhile for two reasons.

First off, he accurately captures the dominant narrative during the runup to the Iraq war. "Serious" Democrats and "respectable" DC pundits were supposed to support the war, and very few elected officials stood with the protestors. They were right, and they were numerous, but they were not powerful. The left was politically isolated at that time. Even some relatively well-informed lay Democrats were agnostic about global warming three or four years ago (ie, my mom), owing to the conservative campaign for obfuscation.

Incidently, for a developing episode of reality biting Serious Respectable Punditry in the bum, check out this series of posts, and comments, on Time's politics blog today.

Second off, he captures the likely response on the part of the right. Raise the dread spectre of Socialism and anti-Americanism, attack trade unions.

crackingdes-- I see your point, it's plausible, but the fact is that in polls, "climate change" elicits less support for solutions than does "global warming."
posted by ibmcginty at 11:53 AM on January 23, 2007


ibmcginty: i couldn't find the poll you mentioned on the link you gave. (maybe i am missing something? it was an interview with the dreaded luntz...) i would like to see more details, if you have them. i tried (admittedly cursory) googling but couldn't immediately find anything.
posted by crackingdes at 12:05 PM on January 23, 2007


You know what I want to hear before the excuses and the "it's an opportunity" crap?

I want every single person who supported the Iraq war or pooped on the science of climate change to say "We were wrong, AND I am sorry. Sorry they called us traitors, dirty fucking hippies, anti-growth, anti-democracy wimps.

Until the lot of them apologize, they can go to hell. We dirty fucking hippies who marched on Washington the day Bush was sworn in after stealing the 2000 election (and I did) were right. Thank you for the concern trolling, Mr. FT anonymous, but you can stick it.
posted by fourcheesemac at 12:06 PM on January 23, 2007 [6 favorites]


Shorter FT article: Dirty f*cking hippies got lucky this time.
posted by nofundy at 12:07 PM on January 23, 2007


and let's use "global warming", not the sad attempt at framing that is "climate change".

Tell that to my Dad, who during a discussion about "global warming" this weekend, his argument was, "if there is global warming, then why the hell is California losing all its agriculture to frost?!?! This is the coldest winter in years!!"

"Global warming" doesn't register with the average Joe, unless... you know... it is hot outside.
posted by afx114 at 12:12 PM on January 23, 2007


crackingdes-- huh, you're right, I misremembered that interview. I can't substantiate what I claimed in a few minutes of Googling, so I'll have to back down.

fourcheesemac: here you go. I supported the war. I thought that people who protested the war had unwarrantedly lost faith in the ability of the US to use force to do good, as it did in Yugoslavia. I was wrong. You were right. And, while the Bush administration did its best to twist the intelligence, the case against the war based on information available at the time was more prescient and reality-grounded than the case for war.

I didn't do much to actively support the war, but I did support it, and I certainly didn't do anything to help the people who were right. For whatever it's worth, I'm very sorry, every day.
posted by ibmcginty at 12:27 PM on January 23, 2007 [4 favorites]


and let's use "global warming", not the sad attempt at framing that is "climate change".

No offence, matteo, but it'd be hard to imagine a poorer way to frame the thing than "global warming." In addition to the folks like afx114's dad who take every cold snap to be a complete vindication for the skeptics, there are armies of whingeing-pundit jackasses (e.g. Rex Murphy up here in Canada) who'll use the clumsy phrasing as an excuse to plant the idea that warmer weather might be good for us.

Because the phrase "global warming" implies a single direction of change to a single weather variable - and not an entire all-encompassing global environment thrown off kilter and fomenting a thousand breeds of catastrophe - it's lousy agitprop. Climate change is fuzzier, but still much more useful.

And as for the linked article, the real crux of it is that not even the most ardent of free-market champions can lie to themselves any longer about the ultimate trump card represented by climate change. That basically just leaves the waiting-for-the-Rapture loonies and the Bush Administration. That's a major shift in just a couple of years, and whether there's a lot of well-earned I-told-you-soing left to be done, the much more important thing is that there are fewer obstacles every day to actually doing something about it, which is encouraging.
posted by gompa at 12:46 PM on January 23, 2007


> It will be up to the right to show that growth and greenery can be reconciled.

Well, this righty won't be trying that because it's patently impossible. You can have a human population of 6,500,000,000 or a green planet but not both. The best outcome possible at this point is a limited human die-off together with a distinctly browner and nastier planet than we now have, but at least not an utter waste with the land masses all desert and the seas full of nothing but sea slugs and acid-tolerant algal mats. And this best possible outcome, if it did occur, would be balanced on a probably unsustainable knife edge, constantly tending to veer toward massive human die-off, or global ecological crash (followed by massive human die-off.)
posted by jfuller at 1:24 PM on January 23, 2007


> We dirty fucking hippies who marched on Washington the day Bush was sworn in after stealing the
> 2000 election (and I did) were right. Thank you for the concern trolling, Mr. FT anonymous, but
> you can stick it.

That and three hours waiting will get you a crabs treatment at the free clinic.
posted by jfuller at 1:26 PM on January 23, 2007


You waited that long, huh?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 1:29 PM on January 23, 2007


That's a major shift in just a couple of years, and whether there's a lot of well-earned I-told-you-soing left to be done, the much more important thing is that there are fewer obstacles every day to actually doing something about it, which is encouraging.

I'm not so convinced it's encouraging. I'd like to think it is, but the author has so little examination of why the Right's thinking went wrong, and so much blame for the dirty fucking hippies, that I am not at all sure this represents anything positive.

The victories he catalogs for the Right are all part of the problem, and this author seems completely unwilling to examine that.

I'm a serious leftist, and I understand the value of free markets, as well as the value of regulation. As a leftist, I am quite willing to concede that war may be the only real option in some scenarios. But apparently, not defaulting to the position that war is automatically the answer makes me a dirty fucking hippy. Etc. I'm willing to compromise, even though I apparently hate free markets and think 100% pacifism is the only answer (which is what being a leftist seems to mean to the author).

I see no compromise or introspection with this author. What I see is a pragmatic shift on a couple of key issues, as a way to avoid examining the recent failures of the Right, and a complete unwillingness to concede anything of value to those on the left (we were right, but completely by accident, it seems).
posted by teece at 1:31 PM on January 23, 2007


Well, this righty won't be trying that because it's patently impossible.

Well, if you approach the problem with that mindset, it certainly will be impossible, because you won't even think about a solution.

There are many, many things that we could do right now to try and balance preservation of the environment, and sustaining our economies.

We aren't even considering them, here in the states (the single biggest thing we could do to help the environment is conservation of resources (energy, raw materials, etc.)). This is a dirty fucking hippy thing, not even to be considered, in the current American mindset. Actual government support for conservation: fuggadeabout it.

Investment in alternate energy research? Hell, we piss away more in pointless corporate tax breaks and 500% redundant smart bombs than we do in that field. Who cares if our current energy supplies are very finite, dwindling rapidly, and fucking up our environment something fierce? Let's enjoy the ride, and leave our kids a hollow shell of a planet!

There's plenty we can do to make things somewhat better without even making the huge sacrifices. It's long past time we started doing those things, as a bare minimum, rather than pretending the magical mystical "free market" will fix everything, and calling anyone that cares a dirty fucking hippy.

Maybe the planet Earth can not support 6.5 billion people without destroying itself. That's an open question, not a forgone conclusion. And I sure as hell ain't willing to just give up on finding the answer. If it's at all possible, I want my nieces and nephews to have some chance at happiness in their lives.
posted by teece at 1:39 PM on January 23, 2007


How about "How being fucking morons threw the right into disarray" ?
posted by odinsdream at 1:46 PM on January 23, 2007


I'm not so convinced it's encouraging. I'd like to think it is, but the author has so little examination of why the Right's thinking went wrong, and so much blame for the dirty fucking hippies, that I am not at all sure this represents anything positive.

If "positive" equates to the author of a Financial Times editorial issuing an extensive mea culpa and signing up post-haste for the vice-chair position at the local wind-power co-op, then you're right.

I choose, however, to assess it thusly: We're all in the same great big boat, and you and I have seen the swirling vortex up ahead for days now, have indeed been imploring the massed lines of rowers to join us in an about-face or at least a hard left turn, but a bunch of self-important guys toward the back have been obstinately demanding full steam ahead, and even whipping some of those around them into rowing double-quick. Those guys - most of 'em - are now at least willing to stop rowing and put down the whip. They're still dead weight, sure, but they're not speeding up our progress toward the vortex. Couldn't hurt.
posted by gompa at 1:57 PM on January 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


Wouldn't growth be a lot more pallatable to everyone if we all could make a quick transition away from fossil fuels (hypothetically speaking)?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 2:03 PM on January 23, 2007


OK, I see that angle, gompa, and it is certainly positive in that light.
posted by teece at 2:28 PM on January 23, 2007


If these people had really believed in democracy so much, why have we spent so many decades propping up and/or installing dictators all over the world? This article really sucks.
posted by amberglow at 2:33 PM on January 23, 2007


If these people had really believed in democracy so much, why have we spent so many decades propping up and/or installing dictators all over the world?
Because they didn't believe in democracy at all, is why. They believed in unfettered capitalism, and have been working hard to convince everyone that it's democracy.

Those guys - most of 'em - are now at least willing to stop rowing and put down the whip.
Maybe I'm too cynical, but I will believe that when the government reduces Halliburton's rations at the trough and starts funding alternative energy (and I don't mean oil shale).
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:46 PM on January 23, 2007


> We aren't even considering them,

I don't expect a solution because I don't believe there's any such thing as "we," when you get beyond group sizes of a few thousand at the absolute maximum. Like a lot of peer-to-peer networks, human networks don't scale up. They just fragment. You can fix peer-to-peer networking with improved algorithms and better code but you can't upgrade the software in people. Which means that "we" won't be agreeing on any global solutions any time soon. Efforts will be patchwork and limited and localized and not enough.


> There's plenty we can do to make things somewhat better without even making the huge sacrifices.

"Making things somewhat better without making the huge sacrifices" is exactly the approach I expect, the one I think will lead to the best realistically possible outcome, which I described: a limited human die-off together with a distinctly browner and nastier planet than we now have, but at least not an utter waste with the land masses all desert and the seas full of nothing but sea slugs and acid-tolerant algal mats.

Here's AlterNet, a perfectly good echt-lefty source and not remotely the Financial Times, on not making the big sacrifices. By claiming we can solve the problem of climate change painlessly, environmentalists confuse us. They offer stark and rigorous presentations terrifying us about the near-term, dire consequences of global warming. And then they offer generalized, almost blithe assurances about how we can avoid these dire consequences without great sacrifice. We are horrified and soothed at the same time.

While a certain kind of person is driving his Prius and going "I told you so," China is switching from a country of bicycles to a car-based economy. It just passed Japan to become the second largest automobine market. Asia's greenhouse emissions are expected to triple in the next 25 years. And the entire developing world is going (quite reasonably) "We have a right to develop!" Which means that America and the rest of the developed West will have to make cuts that are deep enough to offset Asia's tripling and still (quoting Al Gore now) immediately freeze greenhouse gas emissions and then reduce them by up to 60 percent below current levels by 2030. Likely? And without great pain? My especially plainspoken magic 8 ball says "no fucking way."

> Maybe the planet Earth can not support 6.5 billion people without destroying itself. That's an open
> question, not a forgone conclusion. And I sure as hell ain't willing to just give up on finding the answer.
> If it's at all possible,

Great, I'm with you absolutely. Understand that I am a radical, even lunatic treehugger and support all the measures any of you want to take. But if you're going to look at the situation re. sacrifices realistically and still not despair, you'll definitely be needing to approach it with Scott Fitzgerald's attitude: The test of a first-fate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function. One should, for example, be able to see that things are hopeless and yet be determined to make them otherwise.
posted by jfuller at 6:23 PM on January 23, 2007


That Alternet article is a good discussion of an excellent book. To be fair to Gore, though, he was educating people on the problem in a palatable way. His explanations were crystal clear and even entertaining. To be able to feel one understands the problem gives hope. He did an outstanding job of spreading the word.

Gore Part II requires him to get together with Monbiot. That is all.
posted by Listener at 8:24 PM on January 23, 2007


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