alien & sedition.
Monday, March 26, 2007
  All Your Reality Base Are Belong to Us

Good piece by Jonathan Chait at the LA Times yesterday: "Why the Right Goes Nuclear over Global Warming." It's a quick look at the dynamics behind the perverse fact that, as evidence for global warming goes stronger, Republican politicians are actually getting more skeptical. As Chait points out, it's a process largely driven by a small number of hard-core denialist ideologues (the very same ones we cover regularly at this blog):
Your typical conservative has little interest in the issue. Of course, neither does the average nonconservative. But we nonconservatives tend to defer to mainstream scientific wisdom. Conservatives defer to a tiny handful of renegade scientists who reject the overwhelming professional consensus.

National Review magazine, with its popular website, is a perfect example. It has a blog dedicated to casting doubt on global warming, or solutions to global warming, or anybody who advocates a solution. Its title is "Planet Gore." The psychology at work here is pretty clear: Your average conservative may not know anything about climate science, but conservatives do know they hate Al Gore. So, hold up Gore as a hate figure and conservatives will let that dictate their thinking on the issue.
Emphsis mine. Once again, culture war trumps all.

Chait notes that several Republican Congressmen who do take global warming seriously - Reps. Wayne Gilchrest, Roscoe Bartlett, and Vernon Ehlers - were recently turned down by the Republican leadership for seats on the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. Bartlett and Ehlers are research scientists. Observes Chait, "Normally, relevant expertise would be considered an advantage. In this case, it was a disqualification."

So on a critical issue - and at a criticial juncture - we find, once again, Republicans failing in their duty to provide constructive leadership because of the overriding conservative refusal to believe in the utility of science or activist government. The qualified members of their own party are undermined by the ideologues. John Boehner knows which side his freedom toast is buttered on - that's why he turned up at the conservative summit to grovel before the very same "intellectuals" who insist that climate change is a liberal fairy tale. They're driving the movement, and the movement is driving the party.

Still, if you understand conservative dynamics and know how to manipulate them, you can use them to your advantage. Thus, Chait points out, John McCain's efforts to address climate change center on his advocacy of nuclear power. Whatever you think of nuclear plants, you have to admire the political insight here:
In reality, nuclear plants may be a small part of the answer, but you couldn't build enough to make a major dent. But the psychology is perfect. Conservatives know that lefties hate nuclear power. So, yeah, Rush Limbaugh listeners, let's fight global warming and stick it to those hippies!
It's not exactly reverse psychology. Call it perverse psychology.

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Critical analysis of the American conservative movement from a progressive perspective. Also some stuff about the Mets.

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