Magazine article The American Prospect

Global Warming: Sleep It off. (Devil in the Details)

Magazine article The American Prospect

Global Warming: Sleep It off. (Devil in the Details)

Article excerpt

IT'S NO GREAT FEAT TO come up with a list of previous presidents after whom the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue models himself: Poppy, certainly; the Gipper, absolutely; TR, but in foreign affairs only; Coolidge, very discreetly. Lately, however, George W. Bush is looking more and more like the most cosmically ineffectual president in our history: James Buchanan.

Our 15th president, you may recall, was the guy who preceded Lincoln. More precisely, it was on Buchanan's watch that, first, belligerence in the South reached a fever-pitch and, second, the South seceded. The calamities of secession and war were foreseeable by virtually everyone. But as the United States disunited, Buchanan's response was to watch--and do nothing.

That same Can't-Do spirit now suffuses the Bush administration's approach to another foreseeable calamity: global warming. The news here is that the administration has finally admitted that global warming is real and a threat to the planet's future. This turnabout was unveiled, quietly, in the administration's Climate Action Report 2002, which it recently forwarded to the United Nations. For the first time, Bush and Co. …

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