Once in a while during the Obama Administration some people liked to say that a re-run of the Carter presidency was a best-case scenario, but that is really coming true under President Biden. As mentioned previously, it took Carter three years to finally hit bottom, with the famous “Malaise” speech of July 1979 (which never actually contained the word “malaise,” but his press secretary accepted that characterization the following day in a press conference).
It was right after that astoundingly bad speech that Ken Bode wrote in The New Republic an assessment that could be used today with only the name of the administration swapped out:
The past two weeks will be remembered as the period when President Carter packed it in, put the finishing touches on a failed presidency. . . It’s over for Jimmy Carter. . . The Carter administration has simply imploded, collapsed inwardly under the weight of its own incompetence.
See if you can work out any consistency in these positions:
• The current burst of inflation is only “transitory” they tell us, but we need to give a permanent 25 percent boost in benefits for Food Stamp recipients.
• We need to stop producing and transporting fossil fuels here at home, but please, pretty please OPEC and Russia, will you pump more oil out of the ground to help us keep our gasoline prices down? (No thanks, they have said so far.)
Related: Canada’s Keystone pipeline must be stopped because it is a threat to the planet, but by all means let’s bless Russia’s huge gas pipeline to Germany. Remind me again why people thought Trump was in the pocket of the Russians?
• This last point—on the contradictions of Biden’s energy and climate policies—is not lost on environmentalists, and they are not happy. Politico:
President Joe Biden is pushing ambitious plans for tackling climate change by weaning the U.S. off fossil fuels — but he’s also taking short-term actions that would make it cheaper and more convenient for Americans to keep driving their gasoline-powered cars.
The White House’s latest moves include imploring OPEC and Russia to increase oil production in the name of lowering fuel prices, as well as championing a trillion-dollar infrastructure deal loaded with money for new and wider highways. The Biden administration has also declined to block a series of oil pipeline projects — despite killing Keystone XL — and has greenlit drilling on leased federal land at a faster rate than former President Donald Trump’s agencies had.
It’s this last item that is most ironic, though I suspect these may be permits that got initial approval under Trump, and would be upheld in court if Biden blocked them. Then, too, most federal drilling leases are time-limited, so granting permits when fossil fuel demand and prices are low (as they were a few months back and may be again if Biden gets OPEC to do his bidding) means some of them might expire unused. So it could be a clever Machiavellian play on their part; hard to say.
Meanwhile, the next big UN climate summit, COP 26, scheduled for next month in Glasgow, Scotland, is reportedly in disarray. (Our friends at the Global Warming Policy Foundation are calling it “FLOP 26.”) How much disarray? Apparently Prince Charles is going to speak. I guess Greta Thunberg was unavailable. The GWPF reports:
The chances of a global Net Zero deal, which was unlikely even before the fall of Afghanistan, have now essentially evaporated. And as a Net Zero agreement at COP26 looks out of the question, the blame game has begun, with UK officials blaming the Biden administration for refusing to increase its annual transfer of climate $$$billions to more than 100 developing nations.
The main problem the US president now faces is that after his humiliating defeat, none of his administration’s pledges at the Glasgow climate summit will be seen as trustworthy. And while his approval ratings continue to drop, the next US president could simply overturn Biden’s empty promises and the Paris agreement at the stroke of a pen.
Also, these headlines deserve notice:
America’s appetite for fossil fuels has come roaring back as the economy cranks into gear, providing a boost to energy groups but flying in the face of Washington’s drive to slash emissions. Motorists’ return to the roads following the loosening of pandemic restrictions is pushing up fuel demand and the bottom lines of oil refiners, while a shift away from natural gas in power generation has been a boon to coal miners.
And Germany’s energiewende? Never mind:
Germany is forecast to record its biggest rise in greenhouse gas emissions since 1990 this year as the economy rebounds from the pandemic-related downturn, according to a report by an environmental thinktank.
Berlin-based Agora Energiewende said the country’s emissions would probably rise by the equivalent of 47m tons of carbon dioxide. . . It also shows a significant increase in consumption of fossil fuels across the building, industrial and transport sectors. If confirmed, the German government will be required by law to introduce urgent measures to reduce those sectoral emissions.
Funny how reality keeps intruding on green dreams.
One of Biden’s remarks in his Afghanistan speech yesterday could be adapted as the coda for his entire administration: “this [collapse] did unfold more quickly than we had anticipated.”