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The GOP's Global Warming Divide By: David A. Keene
FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, December 11, 2006

Conservatives are worried by Virginia Sen. John Warner’s (R) expressed desire to displace former Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman James Inhofe (R-Okla.) as ranking Republican on the panel. Warner believes seniority gives him an uncontestable claim on the senior slot, but many of his colleagues dispute his interpretation of existing GOP rules.

Warner was so sure of his “right” to claim the slot that just after the election his office actually first issued and later “withdrew” a press release announcing that he will be the ranking GOP member of the committee when Congress convenes in January. A number of GOP committee members, however, are poised to go to the mat on Inhofe’s behalf because they believe the Oklahoman has a better understanding of the incredibly important and divisive issues likely to dominate the committee’s agenda next year. 

The committee is expected to be ground zero in the war over “global warming.” Many Democrats and more than a few Republicans want to force the substance of the so-called Kyoto Protocols on the country even if they can’t round up the votes in the full Senate to ratify the treaty itself. It has become an article of faith among liberal Democrats that global warming-induced climate change is real and the greatest threat to life as we know it.

Like Al Gore, liberals are so convinced they are right that they seem to earnestly believe that anyone who dares to disagree with the science is either a little nuts or in the pay of giant corporations willing to destroy the earth itself to make one last buck. Given the seriousness of the situation as they perceive it, liberals are prepared to do just about anything they can to silence anyone standing in their way. This was compellingly demonstrated just before the election when Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) threatened investigations and government action against corporations that express doubts about the accuracy of this liberal wisdom or contribute to researchers or think tanks that do not tow the “global warming” leftist line.

As far as the left-wing community is concerned, the discussion is over; every sane human being is with them and it’s time to sweep away the skeptics so we can get on with the task of saving ourselves and the earth. Waxman and his colleagues don’t really think free speech guarantees should extend to people who are too obstinate to agree with them when they are so obviously right.

You are either with them or you are evil.

Incoming Democratic Committee Chairwoman Sen. Barbara Boxer (Calif.) shares Gore’s view of the world and is giving “global warming” top priority. She has already announced the formation of two new subcommittees and has the hearts of the environmental crowd going pitty patter in expectations of good things to come.

While chairman, Inhofe emerged as the Senate’s leading “global warming” skeptic. Shutting him up or stripping him of his power to confront them would warm the hearts of the environmental crowd, who believe Warner would be much friendlier.

Warner is, of course, genetically more given to compromise than Inhofe and environmentalists think they can either co-opt or roll him. It’s no wonder that the legislative director of the Natural Resources Defense Council told Greenwire recently that the change would be a “significant step,” and that “We would enjoy working with Senator Warner.”

Undoubtedly. Warner may believe he needs the liberal Northern Virginia vote if he chooses to run for reelection in two years, which gives the enviros real leverage if he proves recalcitrant — leverage they’ll never have with Inhofe. Besides, the change would at the very least spare them having to deal with Inhofe.

The Democrats and their environmentalist friends wouldn’t be the only ones to benefit if Warner prevails. John McCain has become a “global warming” enthusiast and would have a far easier time accomplishing his ends with Warner. Conservatives also fear the White House may be preparing to go soft on global warming and climate change to prove the president can meet his opponents halfway on something.

As a result, the outcome of the Inhofe/Warner contest may tell us a lot about whether Republicans in the Senate and the White House are prepared to do battle with the new Democratic majority or will seek a kinder, gentler and more liberal middle way on issues of incredible importance.

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