Talking Green and Saying Nothing

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Aug. 22 2011 9:31 AM

Talking Green and Saying Nothing

His "hey, media! Look at this!" tour began with a swipe at fellow Republicans, when Jon Huntsman tweeted that "I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming." But what does "trusting scientists" mean? After all, Huntsman backed the regional greenhouse gas reduction initiative for western states when he was governor, then bailed on it when he ran for president. Where is he on that now?

He no longer backs establishing a firm cap on the release of greenhouse gases or doing much in the short run to combat climate change, as long as unemployment remains high.
“Nothing should stand in the way of rebuilding our core,” he said.
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Huntsman follows in the steps of Chris Christie. In May, after more than a year of pressure from conservative and business groups, Christie pulled New Jersey out of the mid-Atlantic states' greenhouse gas initiative. But last week he said, for the umpteenth time, that humans are partially responsible for climate change. The result: More good press about his straight-talking ways.

One effect of Rick Perry et al shifting the Overton Window here -- making it daring for a Republican to say that global warming might not be a fever dream cooked up by George Soros and the Trilateral Commission -- is that all Republicans need to say to become green iconoclasts is to state the obvious. They can do it even as they walk away from policies that (however effective) represent the only attempts to, you know, deal with climate change.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.