Jacob Weisberg and Walter Shapiro have spotted a piece of bad journalism:
NYT again with the mistake of trying to figure out Trump's views, in this case on climate change. He has no views. https://t.co/7rSmISe2ya
— Jacob Weisberg (@jacobwe) May 21, 2016
This is the danger of false equivalence in fall campaign: Hillary's position papers vs. Trump's irrational ad libs. https://t.co/nESbYICKs9
— Walter Shapiro (@MrWalterShapiro) May 21, 2016
I'm not sure they've pinpointed the problem, but they're right to complain about the story, which is here:
What Are Donald Trump’s Views on Climate Change? Some Clues Emerge
So far, Donald J. Trump has said very little about climate change and energy policy beyond his Twitter posts on the issues.
He has called global warming a “hoax,” for example, and claimed that the Chinese fabricated climate change (just a joke, he later said). And in an interview this week with Reuters, he said that he was “not a big fan” of the Paris climate accord, and that “at a minimum I will be renegotiating those agreements.”
Yes, he does think climate change is a hoax:
Any and all weather events are used by the GLOBAL WARMING HOAXSTERS to justify higher taxes to save our planet! They don't believe it $$$$!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 26, 2014
This very expensive GLOBAL WARMING bullshit has got to stop. Our planet is freezing, record low temps,and our GW scientists are stuck in ice
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 2, 2014
He did say it was a Chinese plot:
The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 6, 2012
But I suppose we're expected to believe that there's ambiguity here because, when he was attacked for saying this by Bernie Sanders in a January debate, his habit of denying his own words, or claiming that we're misquoting him if we take his words seriously, kicked in:
During the debate, Sanders said he couldn't imagine electing a president who believed that climate change is "a hoax invented by the Chinese." Sanders specifically cited Trump to make his point.
... Trump was asked about Sanders' attack the next day during a "Fox & Friends" interview. He said his accusation against the Chinese was an obvious joke.
"I think that climate change is just a very, very expensive form of tax. A lot of people are making a lot of money. I know much about climate change," Trump said. "I've received many environmental awards. And I often joke that this is done for the benefit of China -- obviously I joke -- but this done for the benefit of China."
Pay no attention to everything else I've said about this issue!
The Times story trots out a congressman who's written a climate change briefing for Trump. He sounds very much in sync with Trump:
But more clues about Mr. Trump’s views on environmental issues emerged this week from a four-page briefing on energy policy prepared for the presumptive Republican nominee by Representative Kevin Cramer, Republican of North Dakota and an early supporter of Mr. Trump.
Mr. Cramer, who defines himself as a climate change skeptic, discussed in his briefing paper a variety of government regulations that Mr. Trump might do away with if he were president.
They included the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, currently pending in the courts, as well as a federal rule intended to protect waterways and wetlands, and a regulation setting standards for methane emissions that the Environmental Protection Agency completed last week.
So Trump is a skeptic. His new top adviser on climate is a skeptic. Yet we don't know what Trump believes!
The reason we're being told that we can't really know what Trump believes regarding climate change is that the mainstream media always needs to insist that Republicans aren't beyond the pale -- an article of faith that's seriously challenged by the GOP's "climate change is a fraud" claptrap.
Also, Trump's fellow Republicans are claiming that he might not really be a hard-liner:
Republican leaders worry that Mr. Trump’s views, his climate-denying Twitter messages notwithstanding, could end up somewhere left of the party’s mainstream.
“I think there is concern about where he stands because he hasn’t come out strongly one way or another,” said a Republican aide who insisted on anonymity because she was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.
He hasn't? You could have fooled me.
Global warming is based on faulty science and manipulated data which is proven by the emails that were leaked http://t.co/5BeAhats
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 2, 2012
Oh, wait, I see what the problem might be -- and I learn it not from the Times article, but from this Scientific American story about Trump's adviser. It turns out the adviser is a skeptic, but not a hardcore one:
Trump might find that Cramer occupies gray spaces on energy and climate policy. The former utility regulator acknowledges that the world is on a path to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but he calls himself skeptical of the broadly held view by scientists and Democrats that warming could cause severe economic and physical damage.
So Cramer thinks climate change is real -- it's just harmless.
And maybe fellow Republicans are skeptical of Cramer because he thinks a small carbon tax might be appropriate (heresy!). However, he wants it used for research that will make fossil fuels seem more acceptable:
“My idea of a carbon tax would be to help fund clean fossil fuel research and development, not to fund the government, not to punish fossil fuel generation, not to manipulate fuel choice,” Cramer said. “Even a neutral, a revenue-neutral, carbon tax is inappropriate, in my view. But if we can have a very, very modest carbon tax to fund, again, the solution by utilizing fossil fuels like coal, I think even the industry would support that.”
In his party, that practically makes him a leftist. But that's still a very right-wing position, because he's adamantly against using the revenue from a carbon tax to help accelerate a shit away from fossil fuels.
Trump likes Cramer because he expressed support for deregulation and because he was an early backer -- Trump loves flattery:
Cramer was one of Trump’s earliest supporters in Congress. He and Trump appeared on a local radio program broadcast in North Dakota early last month in which Cramer suggested that Trump should roll back a number of energy-sector regulations during the first 100 days of his presidency.
“He liked that a lot,” Cramer said of Trump.
Cramer has been brought on because he can make Trump's all-soundbite agenda appear serious -- "presidentil," you might say.
That doesn't mean Trump will pay any attention to whatever nuance Cramer brings to the table. Recall that after Trump's initial tax plan was criticized, he brought in Stephen Moore of the Heritage Foundation and Larry Kudlow of CNBC to modify it and give it a patina of respectability. They proposed changes -- and the campaign rejected them. So, no, there's no reason to believe that Trump will endorse what his adviser on climate change proposes.
The real worry ought to be that Trump would happily rubber-stamp whatever the Kochite Republicans in Congress cough up as an energy agenda. They know what they want: a radical rollback of efforts to limit the damage of climate change. Trump, who as a political figure is a pure product of the right-wing media, just wants to do whatever wants something that will stick it to the "hoaxsters" and the Chinese. It's not a detailed agenda, but it is a terrifying one. And I'd hate to see how congressional Republicans will flesh it out for him if he's elected.
Crossposted at No More Mr. Nice Blog