Stonewalling Strategy against the Senate

By Gaffney, Frank, Jr. | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), December 16, 1997 | Go to article overview

Stonewalling Strategy against the Senate


Gaffney, Frank, Jr., The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


These days, it is a commonplace that the Clinton-Gore administration has made an artform of the political practice of trying to have it both ways. Even so, the administration's present, cynical contortions on the new Global Climate Change Treaty (GCCT) are in a class all their own.

On the one hand, Messrs. Clinton and Gore would have us believe the completion of the Global Warming treaty was a signal accomplishment, a major step toward sparing the world environmental catastrophe. In particular, Vice President Gore takes credit for having provided the critical momentum during the negotiations' endgame that produced this "historic" accord.

On the other hand, Messrs. Clinton and Gore tell the Senate that this treaty is not really a treaty yet. They say it won't be ready for that institution's constitutionally mandated advice and consent for at least another year. In the meantime, senators are being told to chill out.

The administration tries to square this circle by arguing that the GCCT is really good as far as it goes, it just doesn't go as far as the president and vice president want - and as far as the Senate demanded in a 95-0 vote last summer - in imposing economic and other hardships on developing countries, as well as the developed ones. The party line is that all that will be sorted out at another conference in Brazil next November (note: after the midterm congressional elections), trust us. In the meantime, there is no reason, the Clinton team contends, for action by the Senate; the treaty won't bind the United States until the Senate acts and it is formally ratified.

The truth of the matter is that the administration has no choice but to try to postpone Senate consideration of the Kyoto treaty: If senators get their hands on this treaty in its present form, it will be overwhelmingly rejected.

There are, however, compelling reasons why that must occur - and why Clinton-Gore cannot be allowed to stonewall the Senate so as to preclude early consideration of the GCCT. These include the following:

First, by definition, Al Gore's treaty legitimates the theory that the planet is warming. And yet, there is no scientific consensus for such a conclusion. If anything, the evidence from the most accurate measuring devices - Earth-monitoring satellites and weather balloons - indicate that the Earth has not warmed appreciably over the past 40 years, despite increases in greenhouse gas emissions.

The public is being fed a steady diet of assertions to the effect that the

planet is warming catastrophically and that the scientific community agrees nearly unanimously that it is being caused by human consumption of fossil fuels. Even though these contentions are unproven, they are endlessly repeated in the well-honed technique of the "Big Lie." Were the treaty to go unchallenged, you can forget about having an informed debate in the future about whether the hardship and dislocation this treaty will require of the United States is justified.

Second, everything else being equal, the Clinton administration will be working over the next year with the other signatories to put into place new international bureaucracies intended to implement various controversial aspects of the Kyoto treaty. …

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