Sen. James Inhofe, (R-OK) has said many outrageous things (see his recent interview on Grist) yet last week he crossed a line that has history buffs quoting the McCarthy-Welch exchange (Army v. McCarthy Hearings June 9, 1954)
Mr. Welch: “You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”
When this blog first became aware, thanks to the indispensable blog, of a report released by Inhofe’s staff on February 23, my contribution to the cacophony of commentary was to observe: “This is far beyond the corruption we have come to expect from our ‘elected’ officials. This is Men in Tights, Sheriff of Nottingham, Bat Poop Crazy. [This is] Washington Theater gone Theater of the Absurd.”
How crazy is it? Back in August 2009 I blogged the idea:
O.K., Senator Boopsie… Think of the NSIDC (The National Snow and Ice Data Center) as tracking something immensely more catastrophic than Bill the Cat.
“You’re scaring me!”
Well, that’s good. Look we’ve got to be real…
“I’m going to pass a law that you can’t scare me like that.”
Still there were other, more serious things to consider. Then I saw a HuffPo post by Dan Lashoff, Director of NRDC’s climate center. The title of the post: “Are You Now or Have You Ever Been a Climate Scientist?” I thought it was clever enough to re-post an extract:
Last week, though, the Oklahoma Republican crossed a line that I find shocking, attempting to discredit scientists through innuendo and the kind of intimidation that can have a chilling effect.
If Inhofe wants to call global warming a hoax, as he first did in 2003, he may be paranoid, but he has that right.
If he wants to say some stolen emails between a handful of climate scientists prove that he was right all along, PolitiFact rates the statement “false,” but it’s a nice debating point for him.
If he wants to have his grandchildren put a sign on their Igloo saying “Al Gore’s new home,” I guess that’s OK, though it does sadden me to see one of the great joys of childhood—a snow day—politicized.
But when Inhofe attempts to discredit respected scientists through innuendo and tries to intimidate them by threatening a criminal investigation, enough is enough.
It was more than a clever title or that Lashoff takes offense at the particularly loony behavior of someone in the Washington spotlight. It also was a observation by CP commentator Wits’ End:
I tend to think that any discussion about climate change is better than none, because worse than the deniers are the much larger legions of ignorers. These are otherwise reasonably intelligent, educated people who, if presented with the facts, would probably have to acknowledge the truths about climate change.
But the media give enough play to deniers so that the ignorers feel justified in believing that there is still scientific controversy, and Washington isn’t going to do anything anyway, so they may as well just hop in their SUV and drive out to the hills to go snowmobiling. These are the very people who should be switching their McMansion roofs to solar panels, and investing in more efficient appliances, and switching from air to rail for travel. These are the concerned parents who worry about child molesters but have huge lawns that fill their children’s lungs with chemical fertilizers, herbicides, and toxic fumes from mowers and leaf blowers.
Maybe publicity from such a trial would cause this sort of person to pay attention, become enlightened and then active in a demand for government subsidies for clean energy and a tax on carbon.
It seems impossible that the truth would not prevail in a trial, and if it can’t there, then we’re screwed for sure. What have we got to lose at this point?
So I say, bring it on, Inhofe!