Political Dissent

Inside the Senate's Battle Over Climate Change

“On April 20, 2010, Senators John Kerry, Lindsey Graham, and Joseph Lieberman, along with three aides, visited Rahm Emanuel, President Obama’s chief of staff, at the White House,” begins Ryan Lizza’s in-depth story in The New Yorker on climate change legislation. “The legislators had spent seven months writing a comprehensive bill that promised to transform the nation’s approach to energy and climate change, and they were planning a press conference in six days to unveil their work.” Unfortunately, things unraveled from there—with phraseology to blame. FoxNews.com ran a seemingly false story that the White House opposed the bill, incorrectly labeled the “gas tax,” floated by Graham (R-S.C.), thereby angering Graham. Further madness ensued when Tea Party activists falsely asserted Graham is gay—a claim that went viral – and began targeting Graham with a flurry of online articles about the “Kerry-Graham-Lieberman gas tax bill.” The fact that the Obama administration missed their golden opportunity to combat climate change could taint his legacy. “I believe Barack Obama understands that fifty years from now no one's going to know about health care,” said a longtime environmental lobbyist. “Economic historians will know that we had a recession at this time. Everybody is going to be thinking about whether Barack Obama was the James Buchanan of climate change.”