One of the remarkable things about modern liberalism is its confusion of the Word and the Deed. For many liberals, if they speak about a problem purposively, that problem is tantamount to being solved! So when it comes to climate change, we can relax, the problem is solved because Obama has given a speech!
This thought comes to mind because none other than Al Gore has said that yesterday’s speech was “the best presidential address on climate change ever.” Ever! Well, that settles it, doesn’t it? Of course, when you think about it, this is perhaps the only presidential speech on climate change ever. Sure, lots of presidential speeches have mentioned the issue (even George W. Bush talked about it at some length on a couple of occasions), but this may have been the first speech on the subject with the huge buildup and the large policy scope.
I wonder if it will also be the last. Will Obama now barnstorm the nation giving variations of this speech to persuade skeptical Americans who rank climate change at or near the bottom of every survey of important issues? President Bush, remember, spent the greater part of 2005 traveling the country giving the same speech over and over again to push his second term priority of entitlement reform. (It got derailed, recall, by Hurricane Katrina and the ongoing difficulties in Iraq.) That’s what a president does with a real priority. But if Obama hardly mentions this again, it will suggest this speech was as much about politics—placating the greens—as it was about the actual issue.