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View Diary: Obama-Biden campaign wakes to climate change as political issue? (58 comments)

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  •  i've been reading stuff like this lately, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    G2geek, Willinois, ivote2004

    about how the Obama campaign has been silent on climate change, but I'm not sure I buy it.

    First, it's only Labor Day, and many Presidential year voters don't tune in, and don't want to tune in, so early.

    As far as the Obama campaign "waking up" to global warming as a winning campaign issue, I wouldn't assume they've been asleep.

    Here's what we got right now: Romney and the Repubs mocking climate change at the convention Thursday night (August 27)

    And we also got the Obama White House releasing new fuel efficiency standards on August 28. Here's the White House press release:

    The standards also represent historic progress to reduce carbon pollution and address climate change.  Combined, the Administration’s standards will cut greenhouse gas emissions from cars and light trucks in half by 2025, reducing emissions by 6 billion metric tons over the life of the program – more than the total amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the United States in 2010.
    Now maybe it's just coincidence that the Obama administration announced these new standards the Friday before the Dem convention week, and right before the Labor Day kickoff to fall campaigns across the country. But I doubt it. Sure the press release has stuff about saving gas $, and energy independence, and jobs jobs jobs as well as climate change, but that's exactly the framing we want on clean energy isn't it?

    anyways, I'd expect the Obama campaign might even have figured Romney might go climate denier at the GOP convention that week, too.

    •  he has been silent. believe it (1+ / 0-)
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      just for fun, use the "find" feature for climate in his earth day speech, or his state of the union address. or his energy speeches this spring.

      this is something - a small step in the right direction.

      it's nice to get excited about the platform, or about efficiency standards, but we need to remember that these are the same people who sell US govt coal to China and are allowing Shell into the Arctic.

      An ambulance can only go so fast - Neil Young

      by mightymouse on Mon Sep 03, 2012 at 08:29:54 PM PDT

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      •  I haven't forgotten re environmental issues (0+ / 0-)

        sigh. you don't need to instruct me on "what we need to remember." I guess we could argue about the definition of "small step," but really it's irrelevant to my comment.

        Mine was a political comment questioning this analysis I've been seeing around (as seen here in A. Siegel's diary) that Obama's GENERAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN (not what the President said in January or April or this spring, OK?) has been silent on global warming and Siegel's own framing that possibly the campaign was just now "waking up" to the thought climate change might indeed be a winning campaign issue during the general election campaign, which, as I mentioned already but just to make the point again, doesn't really start for reals IMO until Labor Day, so to say the campaign "has been silent" on any issue on Labor Day itself seems a bit premature.

        •  Team Obama began the reelection campaign... (4+ / 0-)

          ...publicly in April 2011 and got serious about in August 2011, not August 2012. By mid-August this year, the campaign had already spent $325 million.

          Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

          by Meteor Blades on Mon Sep 03, 2012 at 11:59:45 PM PDT

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          •  You could argue that Obama's whole (0+ / 0-)

            term is part of his reelection effort if you like.

            But as a precinct captain, you should be more aware than most about the don't bother me until after Labor Day please attitude among many Presidential year voters. many of whom never vote in off-year elections.

            Again, here we have Romney positioned in his way, and Obama positioned in his way right when those who don't follow politics start, grudgingly, paying attention.

            One with mockery about the "feminine" idea of "healing the earth," and one with concrete action -- right before Labor Day, when Americans put in a lot of time and gas money on the road.

            That -- to my point of view -- is a pretty good way to be positioned to campaign on the issue of "here we have Romney who's stooped down to appease his fringe voters with anti-science views yet again, and here's Obama using the power of his office to act on the fact of climate change."

            That's not a moral judgement of whether Obama has been a leader on climate change. Or any kind of endorsement of Obama's actions as sufficient. It's not even a comment on "oh well if Obama had made climate change a more visible issue over the course of his term, or in the last year and a half, the public wouldn't have fallen victim to the denier propaganda as much as polls show they apparently have."

            If A. Siegel had written a diary about how Obama as President had not done enough on climate change given the urgency of the situation, that would be a different question, wouldn't it. And the answer is no, of course not. And I could list a litany of issues that Obama has not done enough on, spoken enough on, IMO. not the question at hand.

      •  No, he hasn't. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        hooper, ivote2004

        In June he said climate change would be the top issue of his second term. That would be after the big Rolling Stone article, during the time that he supposedly went silent again.

        Every time I do a good search about Obama and climate change I find him speaking about it regularly, like a steady drumbeat. The other results are pundits complaining that he's ignoring it.

        You know what I don't see? Left and green pundits trying to build support for the environmental proposals that Obama keeps talking about over and over. Honestly, this seems like an overly cynical, self-defeating narrative. I don't see how it helps solve anything.

        •  Hmmm ... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mightymouse, BruceMcF

          1.  The New Yorker piece is not a quote, from June time frame, but a general comment about the President's commentary.  

          2.  As noted above, search his Earth Day speech (for a good example) for discussion of climate change. Or, if you wish, look to the State of the Union. Or, look for President Obama's linking the heat wave / drought to climate change. Or ... I think your "steady drumbeat" isn't there.

          3.  As per comment above, look at Joe Romm's piece because I really don't want to rehash this all.

          And, as to "overly cynical", there is (peer-reviewed, I think) analysis showing that public concern over climate change mounts and ebbs in part with public discussion.

          Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

          by A Siegel on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 01:55:43 AM PDT

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        •  tell me more (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          A Siegel
          Every time I do a good search about Obama and climate change I find him speaking about it regularly, like a steady drumbeat. The other results are pundits complaining that he's ignoring it.
          This recent locution is the first I've heard of it.

          Obama's reputation for ignoring it is well-founded.

          An ambulance can only go so fast - Neil Young

          by mightymouse on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 04:24:05 AM PDT

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          •  Obama has always said Climate Change was a top (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            mightymouse, ivote2004

            priority of his.  However as you may notice he does not fight battles he can't win.  During his first term this was such a battle.

            He's said repeatedly that his priorities in his 2nd term would be Climate & Immigration.  I see no reason to doubt this.  On the other hand, I do see lots of reason to push for what we really want.

            Dems had 2 Climate/Energy bills early in Obama's term.  Both were cap & trade proposals with tons of loopholes, and both sucked, imo.  It's good they died.

            Personally I'd like to see him propose Cap and Dividend...see  This would give us a carbon tax that most people would support, because they'd get the tax receipts refunded directly to them equally.  There's nothing like a check in the mail for helping with popularity!

            But the idea that Obama's been MIA on climate is just not true.  The auto emissions rule is real, meaningful, big change, as is all the alternative-energy funding.

            But first we have to defeat the Oil & Coal Party.  

            •  question was, when has he been speaking out? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              A Siegel

              poster above said:

              Every time I do a good search about Obama and climate change I find him speaking about it regularly, like a steady drumbeat. The other results are pundits complaining that he's ignoring it.
              I haven't seen this - that's why I asked.

              As to your comment:

              But the idea that Obama's been MIA on climate is just not true.  The auto emissions rule is real, meaningful, big change, as is all the alternative-energy funding.
              Sure. But this is small potatoes in the scheme of things.

              Especially when on considers that, at the same time, his admin has approved low-cost US govt coal sales to China and opened up a lot of areas to off-shore drilling. And he has advocated "all-of-the-above" energy and fracking. Neither these policies nor rhetoric are climate friendly.

              There is plenty of reason for skepticism on the admin and climate. If he's re-elected he'll have a chance to make good on his promise. But right now it's just a promise from a politician.

              Getting back to the point of this thread, the issue is admin messaging/Obama speaking about it. This is very important (whether or not a bill is coming down the road in the next month or so). It will get the issue into the public eye, making it more likely people will connect crazy weather with climate change. It will make it more likely for people to apprehend the true scale of the threat.

              So those of us alarmed on climate really want Obama and the administration to step up here.

              An ambulance can only go so fast - Neil Young

              by mightymouse on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 07:25:59 AM PDT

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              •  Guess we disagree. Not "small potatoes", imo. (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                mightymouse, ivote2004

                I'm one of us "alarmed on climate" but blaming Obama is imo nuts.  Nobody real (i.e. in power) has done more.  Labeling the 53mpg CAFE standard small is just wrong.

                Or would "stepping up" mean committing political suicide and handing the climate reigns to President Romney?

                We've got to win before we can lead on unpopular issues.  Sadly, climate is way down on Americans' lists of concerns.  Our passion doesn't change that.

                The good news, though, is that climate change is finding more "believers" this year than last, due to the obviousness of extreme weather.  The tide is turning.  If we win.

                •  Okay ... (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  mightymouse, ivote2004, John Crapper

                  1.  The CAFE standard is BIG.  Don't see me saying it is small.

                  2.  The opening of coal, the emphasis on bragging about putting in pipelines, the opening of Arctic to drilling, the strong emphasis on natural gas are not minor issues.

                  3.  As per my posts, I don't see it as political suicide to 'step it up' on climate issues -- in fact, it is a winning political issue. The 'political suicide' has been the mistaken 'village' opinion.

                  4.  If the President doesn't campaign on climate as an issue, how can he be in a position to act on it come January 2013?  I don't think it is a "win" so we can act, but a pledging to act will enable us to win and then provide momentum for acting.

                  Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

                  by A Siegel on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 09:18:49 AM PDT

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                •  how to get people to care? (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  A Siegel

                  Presidential silence doesn't help.

                  An ambulance can only go so fast - Neil Young

                  by mightymouse on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 12:18:48 PM PDT

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          •  Not well founded (0+ / 0-)

            Just often repeated by Joe Romm and those who didn't fact-check him.

            •  Show the facts (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              that prove Romm (and I) wrong -- note that I write on this independently of Joe and, typically, don't find that Joe has written on something until after my piece is posted (because, well, check the timing -- it isn't infrequent that post is there first).  

              Where was climate in Earth Day?  What about its near disappearance from State of the Union speech?  Where is the Saturday morning Presidential video focused on climate change?  Assume that I'm from Missouri and show me that I (and Joe and ...) am wrong.

              Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

              by A Siegel on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 09:14:39 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Ok then (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                January 2012
                Mentions climate change in State of the Union, criticizing Congress for being too divided to act. That's a hint as to why he started talking about it less and a clue that maybe greens should be talking about Congressional obstruction.

                January 2012
                Video message to climate change summit talking about a new chapter in American leaderhship on climate change.

                January 2012
                Department of Interior releases draft strategy and hold public workshops on preparing for climate change impacts.

                February 2012
                "We're going to deal with climate change in a serious way." - Obama

                February 2012
                Hillary Clinton announced new international climate change initiative.

                March 2012
                Says he believes in science and criticizes Republicans on climate change in several campaign speeches.

                April 2012
                The Big Rolling Stone article

                May 2012
                Defense Secretary talks about climate change as national security issue.

                May 2012
                Obama appears on Jimmy Kimmel nationally televised talk show and mentions climate change again.

                The White House page on Climate Change continues to be updated with plenty of mentions of climate change.

                Should I keep going? There's plenty more. You can argue that Obama should talk about it more in major speeches, but the accusation that he's silent is a gross exaggeration. One HuffPo column claimed there was an "administration-wide silence." This false narrative is out of control. I pointed this out with links at ThinkProgress a while back and my posts started getting deleted.

                Even when he's not using the phrase climate change, Obama is pushing for good energy policy constantly. It's just so bizarre that greens are ignoring that instead of joining the fight to push Congress.

                The criticism seems to argue that Congress will stop obstructing legislation if Obama just starts using the magic words instead of talking about clean energy. I doubt it. I think the movement is going to have to stop pretending that the Presidency is the only branch of government, like it did for the past three years, and start pressuring Congress directly. Why are we letting Harry Reid, the fossil fuel Senate and House Republicans off the hook?

                •  Bullshit has been called. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  I can provide many more links if you don't want to do the search yourself. I'll admit that all the blogs about Obama's silence make it much more difficult to find the text of him talking about it.

                  Don't you think it would make climate change sound like a more winning, popular issue if we bragged and celebrated every time Obama said about it instead of pretending he's silent.? Wouldn't that give the perception to other candidates that it's a winning issue instead of reinforcing the idea that it's too controversial to speak about? Like I wrote, I think this is a self-defeating narrative.

                  •  Look ... (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    I'm taking your commentary seriously but the point isn't whether Panetta has spoken up (which his speech was good) even as John Holbrooke has been strangely silent, but the President's commentary and engagement.

                    I provided a link which provided my perspective re the SOTU.  I didn't view that throw-away as meaningful -- especially when compared to climate change in previous SOTUs and with how fossil fuels suddenly were counted in "clean energy" in that speech.

                    RE Jimmy Kimmel, this is what the link provides:

                    In his appearance on the Jimmy Kimmel show this month, Obama talked about unfair fossil fuel subsidies and the need for investment in clean energy.

                    “We need to make sure we are investing in the clean energy sources of the future; solar, wind, biofuels,” he said. “Our oil production has been higher than it has been in eight years, our oil imports are lower than they have been in 13. So we are producing a lot of oil but we are still subsidising the oil industry when they are making billions.

                    “And for us to take some of that money and invest in electric cars, invest in new sources of fuel, that’s good for the planet, it helps us deal with climate change, it’s good for our economy.”

                    It is good that he mentioned climate change -- which I certainly missed -- but it isn't a serious commentary (of even a few sentences).

                    Now, I will go through the material you provide.

                    And, this post -- by the way -- is meant as a 'this is a powerful thing to do' commentary.

                    PS:  You don't think "greens" talk about Congressional (and mainly R) obstructionism?

                    Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

                    by A Siegel on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 10:45:50 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  it was a good listing (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      A Siegel, ivote2004

                      of a series of steps to mitigate climate change.  It put those steps in context of smart things to do for more than one reason.  It offered a rebuttal of one of the core arguments, or false frames, its the environment vs. the economy.

                      No it is not a national speech in prime time.

                      But it feels to me much as his advocacy for ending DADT and other gay rights.  Talking directly with affected groups, saying that his support was unwavering, but mostly nibbling around the edges.   And then one day DADT is no longer law.  And maybe he gets pressed by Biden but he supports marriage equality.   And instead of a firestorm, the world changes, with most Americans supporting marriage equality.

                      Obama can draw a fire storm, but that isn't always positive.  When he works around the edges and changes the frames, suddenly bigger things happen without the opposition.  

                      Second terms are supposedly about legacies.  Climate change is a prime issue for a legacy.  I felt and said all along that for me climate change is the biggest issue, the existential threat to life as we know it.  There has been some good things done, some bad things, but on the whole, I think the good outweighs the bad.  I can wait on Obama.  One, because I have no choice.  Two, because I do have faith in the promise to take this up in the second term.  Three, the other side will surely kill us all if given their way.

                      •  Well said. (0+ / 0-)

                        Of course we need 10x, 100x, 1000x more on preventing climate meltdown.

                        But how do we get it? And how do we sustain it? And how do we scale it? And how do we accelerate that scaling until it is a match for the planet-wide catastrophe we are up against?

                        In the binary political system we have here in the US, the only viable choices we activists have for using our finite political energy within the electoral realm are to direct negative feedback toward the side that is working against us and positive feedback toward the side that is working with us.

                        Directing negative feedback toward our allies is not a winning strategy.

                        #3: ensure network neutrality; #2: ensure electoral integrity; #1: ensure ecosystemic sustainability.

                        by ivote2004 on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 07:35:54 PM PDT

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                    •  Congress (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      A Siegel

                      Harry Reid said he wouldn't bring an energy bill to the floor because he knew it didn't have the votes to pass. Then he allowed three votes on bills to remove EPA's authority to regulate climate change, even though none of those had the votes to pass. Then he appointed Joe Manchin to an energy committee. You have to search pretty hard to find anyone calling out Reid for his efforts to protect fossil fuel Democrats. He deserves to be.
                      Enviro groups pressure Congress, but I think left punditry in general has put too much focus on the Presidency, as if it's his job to pressure Congress for us.

                      I don't mean to be a jerk about this, but it's frustrating to me because I see how effective the Fox/Talk-Radio echo-chamber was whenever Bush proposed something they liked. Enviros are doing the exact opposite. Anything good Obama proposes on energy drops like a stone. Does it make sense to largely ignore Obama's call to end oil subsidies and extend the renewable energy tax credit just because he didn't use the words climate change enough? I don't think it's a winning strategy.

                •  this is pretty weak, Willinois. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  A Siegel

                  1. the SOTU mention was tiny. no mention of the actual danger. Here it is in all its glory:

                  he differences in this chamber may be too deep right now to pass a comprehensive plan to fight climate change.
                  WHOO FUKIN HOO!

                  2. Dept of Interior release is not admin speaking out

                  3. "We're going to deal w/ CC in a serious way" is a one-liner - no mention how, no mention of the danger, no attempt to rally anyone. this is to garner support of erstwhile supporters who are getting impatient.

                  4. Your Mar 2012 link leads to a 7/17/2012 text, which contained this whopping mention:

                  He [McCain] believed in climate change.  He believed in science.  (Laughter.)  No — I mean, when I speak about climate change, I mean, I think that’s — I pay attention to scientists.
                  Again, he is shoring up support amongst already committed rather than anything else.

                  5. "Big Rolling Stone Article" says climate will be an issue in the election. It's a promise of what he will do.

                  and so on.

                  Obama has been essentially silent on the issue. Nothing but oblique stuff for the campaign. No effort to inform people, to link weather to climate, etc.

                  An ambulance can only go so fast - Neil Young

                  by mightymouse on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 12:12:50 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  A few more (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                A Siegel

                Obama made Romney's position on climate change a campaign issue in his standard stump speeches to donors repeatedly in March through July.




                White House releases sheet on G8 summit and climate change in May.

                He's got Bill Nye campaigning for him on climate change and the campaign backed his statements.

                And, of course, the comment in June to a New Yorker writer that climate change will be the top issue of his second term.

                Perhaps part of the problem is that the corporate press, which is heavily dependent on advertising from the fossil fuel industry, will always ignore most of what Obama says in favor of clean energy and dealing with climate change. Maybe greens shouldn't aid them in that effort?

                •  this is exactly the problem, Willinois (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  A Siegel

                  As you say:

                  Obama made Romney's position on climate change a campaign issue in his standard stump speeches to donors.
                  Speeches to donors are where he promises them what they want. Many are disappointed with his lack of leadership - he needs their support still. They are not where he lays out plans for all to see.

                  And they are certainly not where he connects, for the nation, climate change and the extreme weather we've been seeing.

                  I grant that the small mentions of climate in his recent speeches as noted in this diary are better than nothing. But it is negligible in perspective of the threat we face.

                  An ambulance can only go so fast - Neil Young

                  by mightymouse on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 12:18:11 PM PDT

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    •  Not sure this narrative fits reality (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I've seen this narrative about Obama being silent on climate change repeated frequently over the past year or so. But, several times I did a google search to find him talking about it at a speech that didn't get much publicity. And it picked up again not long after the Rolling Stone article.

      Obama has talked about energy issues NON-STOP and in every major speech. Even his big speeches about health care included a plug for cap-and-trade.

      What none of the diarists who complain about this have explained, so far as I've seen, is why it matters. Is there some magic to the words "climate change" that makes saying them so much more important than pushing for specific clean energy initiatives?
      If Obama is pushing for the action we want then isn't it more productive to add our voices in support of action instead of opining about the specific language he should use? I really don't get it. I thought action was more important than words. So, why do we have so many pundits and bloggers complaining about words instead of writing about the action he's pushing for?

      •  Okay ... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Again ...

        1.  As per comment above, the literature shows that discussing climate change matters in terms of public perception.

        2.  Talking about "clean energy" without mentioning the elephant in the room (climate change) undermines one of the most (if not the most) important reasons to be emphasizing clean energy.  

        As I put it in a discussion of how the President bragged (yes, a fair word) about the creation of oil infrastructure and discussed solar without mentioning climate change:

        we cannot make rational choices about our energy system without considering economic and environmental and climate issues — abandoning conversation about the complex systems-of-systems challenges and opportunities inhibits moving toward sensible solutions.
        In any event, to be claiming that the President has been speaking to the American public forcefully and directly about climate change issues in the past several years simply doesn't comport with the actual record.  This piece (my post) is a suggestion that maybe this is turning.

        Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

        by A Siegel on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 02:02:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Please (0+ / 0-)

      look to the Joe Romm piece that I linked to in the diary as I don't want to go through the litany of evidence / discussion to back the point.  

      And, well, basically not spoken about between April Rolling Stone & Republican Convention is "silence", no?

      Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

      by A Siegel on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 01:50:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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