The political wise guys say that John McCain has little chance of securing the Republican nomination for president. Too old, too little money, too much yesterdays man, etc., etc.
So, why did my organization, Republicans for Environmental Protection, endorse McCain for president?
Why not Rudy Giuliani, whos ahead in the polls and promises no-nonsense leadership?
What about Mitt Romney, whose business success, chiseled visage, and family pedigree are the stuff of Republican dreams?
Or Fred Thompson, who has a baritone voice and ... and ... a baritone voice.
The simple truth, as we see it, is that no other Republican candidate understands as well as McCain that energy is a convergence of security, economic, and climate risks requiring action today. No other GOP candidate has given the interrelated web of energy and climate issues the kind of thoughtful consideration or offered the legislative solutions that he has.
McCain championed greenhouse gas emissions reductions before it was cool and well before it was popular.
The Pack Catches Up to McCain
Lets focus on climate for a minute. Today, climate change is the topic of the hour. Republicans are climbing aboard the bandwagon. Even Fred Thompson, who last April ridiculed the issue with allusions to global warming on Pluto, is now saying that climate change is real.
Just last week, a bipartisan group of senators, led by John Warner (R-VA), a GOP stalwart, and Joe Lieberman (Kinda Sorta D-CT), introduced a cap-and-trade bill, Americas Climate Security Act, to cut greenhouse gas emissions nearly two-thirds by 2050.
One of the co-sponsors is Elizabeth Dole (R-NC), not the first name that the green set would list as a congressional environmental champion.
The same day that Warner and Lieberman dropped their bill, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) put out a press release calling for a sector-by-sector approach, rather than an economy-wide cap.
Thats a good sign. Congress is debating how, not whether. Let the reactionary bloggers, radio gasbags, and self-important TV pundits blather on that climate change is a leftwing plot to bring down capitalism. Business leaders, states, cities, conservationists, academics, and ordinary citizens have accepted the science, moved on, and are ready to discuss practical solutions.
But it wasnt so long ago that McCains was a lonely voice in the GOP calling on his colleagues to take climate change seriously.
A Republican Answer to Global Warming
His evolution as a climate change leader dates to the 2000 presidential campaign. In February of that year, a few of our REP leaders managed to wangle a meeting with McCain at the Phoenix airport. As McCain and his entourage entered the Sky Harbor conference room, the very first words out of his mouth were, "What do I tell them about global warming? Everywhere I go, people are asking me about global warming. I need a good Republican answer! Can you help me?"
The REP leaders looked at each other, gulped, and said, Senator, well write you a policy paper on the topic. So we did.
Shortly thereafter, the McCain campaign ended in the bottomlands of South Carolina.
Now, we cant take all the credit for what happened after McCain returned to the Senate, but we like to think that we helped plant an idea in his head. Beginning in 2001, he started looking into the climate issue. He held hearings, questioned scientists, and turned the topic over in his mind.
He led expeditions to the ends of the earth -- Alaska, Antarctica, and Greenland -- to educate his Senate colleagues. He and Lieberman sponsored legislation, the Climate Stewardship Act, similar to the bill introduced last week.
And, most importantly for Republicans, he has framed the issue in conservative terms. In an energy policy speech last April, he dismissed critics who say the effects of climate change are too uncertain or too distant in time to warrant action.
"Im a proud conservative, and I reject that kind of live-for-today, 'me-generation' attitude," he said. "It is unworthy of us and incompatible with our reputation as visionaries and problem-solvers. Americans have never feared change. We make change work for us."
Nearly a century ago, Theodore Roosevelt said, "Conservation is a great moral issue, for it involves the patriotic duty of ensuring the safety and continuance of the nation." TRs insight about stewardship is as timely today as it was then. REP is convinced that John McCain gets that, and thats why we endorsed him for president.
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