Thursday, January 19, 2006


Green With Enmity

With all the political controversies swirling out there the last few days -- from Hillary's plantation comment to the allegations of a cover-up in the Cisneros investigation to the White House press secretary attacking Al Gore from his press room podium -- this seems to be primetime for partisanship.

Largely lost amid all the repeated recriminations was an important act of independence and courage that, for my money, was the most important story of the day. At a public symposium honoring the 35th anniversary of the EPA's creation, five former Republican EPA Administrators put aside party fealty to directly chastise the Bush Administration for neglecting the threat posed by global warming.

Said Russell Train, who served under Presidents Nixon and Ford: "We need leadership, and I don't think we're getting it. To sit back and just push it away and say we'll deal with it sometime down the road is dishonest to the people and self-destructive."

It's hard to appreciate just what an unusual development this is if you live outside of the Beltway and are not privy to the silly political codes the two major parties adhere to, which strictly proscribe openly criticizing a party leader while they are in office -- especially a sitting President. That goes doubly especially for this White House, which is ruthless in its enforcement of party discipline and treats dissent like treason.

So for not one or two but five former Republican environmental gurus to call out George W. Bush in this way, well, it's a landmark event -- which underscores just how irresponsible and craven this Administration has been its handling of the most consequential environmental challenge of our time.

The operative question now is what will leadership of the Democratic Party do about it. Here you have a highly critical issue on which the president is in fact clearly out of the mainstream (or should we say jestream in this case?) and clearly ignoring the welter of scientific evidence and his constitutional duties (providing for the common defense, anyone?) to appease large monied interests. And even the most credible voices in his own party on said issue are publicly attacking him. It's never been easier for team blue to be green than here -- especially given all the scrutiny now being given to special interest lobbying. Hopefully, Dean, Pelosi, and Reid will see see this opening and capitalize on it.

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