The president got himself tied up in knots discussing the cap-and-trade bill. The New York Times reports that he sympathized with the large number of Democratic defectors who can’t look their constituents in the eye and tell them home state industries are going to take a big hit:
“I think those 44 Democrats are sensitive to the immediate political climate of uncertainty around this issue,” Mr. Obama said. “They’ve got to run every two years, and I completely understand that.” Many of them represent districts that rely heavily on coal for power generation or that are home to industries vulnerable to international competition. Mr. Obama said the House bill contained transitional assistance for these regions.
In other words, who can blame them because a whole host of industries are going to get whacked, right? Still, the very same concerns don’t in his mind justify Republican objections:
But he expressed scorn for the Republicans who fought the bill. He noted that some of them were predicting political doom for those who voted for it, recalling the 1993 battle over an energy tax that failed and helped Republicans gain control of the House a year later.
Those Republicans, he said, “are 16 years behind the times,” comparing their position to that of their party’s leaders in the energy and health care debates of the early Clinton years.
“They’re not fighting the last war,” he said. “They’re fighting three wars ago.”
He accused Republicans of “fear mongering” and said they might win some short-term political gains by “scaring the bejesus out of people” by warning of huge energy cost increases. Ultimately they will fail, he asserted, because the American people look to the future, not the past.
So which is it — lawmakers legitimately represent the interests of their voters or they are incredibly dense? It seems when 44 members of his own party tell him they can’t face the voters because the bill is directly contrary to their economic interests, the president might take their concerns seriously. Instead, it seems he reverts to name calling — but just against those from the opposing party, mind you.