Tuesday, September 01, 2015

No man is an island -- but the GOP is

Yesterday, in a speech in Anchorage starkly laying out the current and future effects of climate change, Obama rhetorically placed his opposition on an island unto themselves, as besieged intellectually as Alaskan islanders now are physically. That reminded me of something. Here's the passage:
But if those trend lines continue the way they are, there’s not going to be a nation on this Earth that’s not impacted negatively.  People will suffer.  Economies will suffer.  Entire nations will find themselves under severe, severe problems.  More drought; more floods; rising sea levels; greater migration; more refugees; more scarcity; more conflict.

That’s one path we can take.  The other path is to embrace the human ingenuity that can do something about it.  This is within our power.  This is a solvable problem if we start now.

And we’re starting to see that enough consensus is being built internationally and within each of our own body politics that we may have the political will -- finally -- to get moving.

So the time to heed the critics and the cynics and the deniers is past.  The time to plead ignorance is surely past.  Those who want to ignore the science, they are increasingly alone.  They’re on their own shrinking island. 
Here's the association. Defending the Iran deal in early August, Obama similarly quarantined the opposition: 
So this deal is not just the best choice among alternatives, this is the strongest nonproliferation agreement ever negotiated, and because this is such a strong deal, every nation in the world that has commented publicly, with the exception of the Israeli government, has expressed support. The United Nations Security Council has unanimously supported it. The majority of arms control and nonproliferation experts support it. Over 100 former ambassadors who served under Republican and Democratic presidents support it.

I've had to make a lot of tough calls as president, but whether or not this deal is good for American security is not one of those calls, it's not even close. Unfortunately, we're living through a time in American politics where every foreign policy decision is viewed through a partisan prison, evaluated by headline-grabbing soundbites, and so before the ink was even dry on this deal, before Congress even read it, a majority of Republicans declared their virulent opposition. Lobbyists and pundits were suddenly transformed into armchair nuclear scientists...disputing the assessments of experts like Secretary Moniz, challenging his findings, offering multiple and sometimes contradictory arguments about why Congress should reject this deal.
Back in 2008 when Obama was promising to change our politics, one mantra was that it was important to acknowledge that "the other side may sometimes have a point."  Through the first half of 2011, he repeatedly did that. In the healthcare summit with party leaders of February 2010, the primary purpose of which was to rally Democratic support for the Affordable Care Act, he bent over backwards to acknowledge any scrap of actual policy put forward by Republican participants before respectfully announcing at the end that if Republicans would lend no support and brook no compromise, Democrats would go their own way.

After six and a half years of ruinous dead-end opposition and demonization of every proposal he puts forward or policy he implements, Obama is done with all that. He now rhetorically positions the GOP as an extremist party, denying plain facts, denying scientific evidence, denying world consensus. Good on him. He's earned the freedom to speak that truth.

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