Robert Greenstein on the Obama Speech:
Why Did the North Fight?

Fred Hiatt: Five Years Late and Many Dollars Short

After a career spent whining "opinions of shape of earth differ," Fred Hiatt finally writes something not false:

The Republican self-deception that draws the most attention is the refusal to believe that Barack Obama is American-born....

When President George W. Bush and Congress lowered taxes in 2001, the justification, unlikely as it seems today, was a budget surplus. When the surplus melted away, that didn’t affect the ideology....

In Ryan’s vision, all federal spending other than Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and interest payments will decline from 12 percent of the national economy (GDP) in 2010 to 6 percent in 2022 to 3.5 percent in 2050. “For comparison, spending in this category has exceeded 8 percent of GDP in every year since World War II,” the CBO said. “The proposal does not specify the changes to government programs that might be made in order to produce that path.” Of course not — because they are changes that few Americans would ever support.

The climate change denialism is a newer part of the catechism. Just a few years ago, leading Republicans — John McCain, Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Tim Pawlenty among them — not only accepted global warming as real but supported some kind of market-based mechanism to raise the cost of burning fossil fuels....

Pawlenty similarly acknowledged on “Meet the Press” last year that “the climate is changing,” but added that “the more interesting question is how much of that is man-made versus natural causes.” When I asked last week how Pawlenty would answer that “interesting question,” his spokesman responded by e-mail: “We don’t know [the] cause of climate change.”... But if you asked 1,000 scientists, 998 of them would say that climate change is real and that human activity — the burning of oil, gas and coal — is a significant contributor. But Pawlenty’s supposed uncertainty is convenient, because if we don’t know the cause, then there’s little point in looking for a cure. And any cure is going to cost money, or votes, or both.... To say that Republican irresponsibility makes it more difficult for Democrats to speak honestly is not an excuse. But it is a partial explanation. And while Obama may wish the climate change conversation would go away between now and 2012, he at least is not pretending the phenomenon is fiction.

Does Pawlenty believe what he says now?... As recently as 2008 he was supporting congressional action to limit greenhouse gas emissions. I do not believe that he believes those 998 scientists are wrong. Which leads to another question: Should we feel better if a possible future president is not ignorant about the preeminent environmental danger facing our planet, but only calculating or cowardly? To paraphrase Pawlenty, I don’t know the answer to that one.

What Hiatt's piece is missing is the part where he apologizes for not writing this piece five or ten or fifteen years ago. What Hiatt's piece is missing is the part where he resigns, donates all his wealth to the poor, and takes up a life of anonymous service to others in partial atonement for the abominable atrocity that he has run.