Kerry: Democrats not elected to be just like Republicans, only a little more progressive

Cross posted at DailyKos

Senator Kerry gave a scorching speech yesterday about global climate change, not just blasting the Bush administration, but Washington itself, for doing nothing on such a monumental problem we face.  I have to say I like this tell-it-like-it-is Kerry.  He knows better than most that without a swift kick in the pants, the inside the DC bubble Democrats aren't going to do anything meaningful on global climate change.  It's too easy to blame Bush to defend continued inaction, and I am heartened to see that Senator Kerry is having no part of that, and coming out swinging.

Let the truth telling begin:

... when it comes to energy independence and fighting climate change, neither the blame nor the burden for inaction falls on one party alone. Washington has never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

Even President Bush is now fond of saying that "America is addicted to oil." But Washington's preferred policy has been to feed the addiction; the government's attitude on greenhouse gases has been to let them increase; Congress's energy alternatives have been token; and again and again the partisan approach to crisis has been to denigrate the environment.

...

For Democrats, the energy bill coming to the floor of the Senate is a test of our will, and a question of whether we are serious about the responsibility we hold to govern differently, to deliver bold change--not warmed over offerings. Democrats took a majority of both houses in Congress because we promised to do things differently. We weren't elected to be the party of Big Oil, only a little less obviously. We weren't elected to be like Republican Congresses of the past, only a little more progressive. No -- if we merely tinker around the edges of energy policy or climate change, or write an energy bill indistinguishable from the ones we criticized Republicans for passing-- then we have not earned our majority.

Ouch.  Gee, I wonder if he had certain House members in mind who were trying to kill state global climate change initiatives, by sneaking it in an otherwise benign energy bill.  

To be clear, this is not empty rhetoric from Senator Kerry, who has been active fighting for the environment since 1970 when he helped organize Earth Day in Massachusetts.  Yes, he actually participated in activism for the environment before he famously protested the Vietnam War.  I think that really says it all as to his dedication to issues like global climate change.  What's more is the debate over global climate change he forced on the Senate floor last month when he offered (along with Senator Feingold) an amendment to the Water bill that "would direct the Army Corps of Engineers to factor climate change into all future water projects and no longer build bridges, levees, damns or other projects with no regard for the environment".  Sounds like common sense to me, but it didn't pass, garnering a healthy 51 votes, but short of the 60 votes needed to pass under the rules for debate agreed upon (don't even get me on why the hell it had to get 60 votes.  I don't know why, but it sure does stink.).  Of course, this is what Senator Kerry had to put up with, and all senators will have to put up with on this issue, until Oklahoma gets a clue and throws this bum out:

INHOFE:  The other assertion that was made by the distinguished junior Senator from Massachusetts was that the sea level is going to come up. There are so many people who have watched the Gore movie, and a lot of the teachers have gotten into this, and it makes teaching real easy. There is one school in Maryland, and a parent came by to see me after we had our confrontation with Senator Gore about 3 weeks ago and said: Do you realize in my child's elementary class, his teacher makes them watch this movie once a month? They said the scary part is--for little kids who do not know any better, they think it is true, when it is not true. They said the scary part is the sea level rise.

... the sea level rise scenario is bogus. That movie a lot of kids are required to watch--kids are impressionable. They don't understand. They don't know it is science fiction. They think this is something that is going to happen, and those kids have nightmares. I have parents tell me--similar to the lady from Maryland whose daughter had to watch that movie once a month--we are all going to drown. It is a horrible thing, but they believe that.   Now we know the sea level rise scenario is bogus, and we have the documentation that says it is. He didn't refute that.

... There is also George Soros, the Michael Moores, and these various foundations such as the Heinz Foundation that put in thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars, contribute to campaigns, buy off scientists. That group is very busy.

...  I suggest there are a lot of people outside who are very vocal. One statement is from France, from Jacques Chirac. Jacques Chirac said Kyoto is not about climate change. He says:  Kyoto represents the first component of an authentic global governance.  That is not Inhofe, that is Jacques Chirac.

Okay, I admit it:  this is the best stand up comedian schtick ever to be presented on the Senate floor.  Talk about parody!!!  If it wasn't for the fact that this guy is a U.S. Senator, I'd pay to see his act it makes me laugh so hard.  Note that he goes after Kerry's wife!  Note that Gore has been turned into the bogeyman.  And what's with that bizarre Chirac remark (didn't they change the name of french fries to freedom fries because of Chirac, yet now he's some kind of wiseman?).  Senator from Massachusetts?

KERRY:  I know I heard the Senator talk about how this represents some kind of global conspiracy and global government and all of this, but it is something called the United Nations which Republican Presidents have used, conservative Republican Presidents, such as Ronald Reagan, often went to and found the ability to work cooperatively to achieve things. Whether it was President Jerry Ford, President Richard Nixon, or others, they respected the United Nations and have tried to enhance its ability to do some things on an international basis.

...

I have spoken to the sea level rise and to the United Nations, but there is one thing I might clarify very quickly. Mr. Hansen did not get a grant from the Heinz Foundation. Mr. Hansen was presented a Heinz award in honor of former Republican Senator John Heinz, who was a great leader on this issue. Senator Heinz knew global climate change was happening, he knew we needed to respond to these things, and Mr. Hansen received an award, with no strings attached, no communication whatsoever, as a recognition of his work. He has received awards from many other organizations and entities over the course of his lifetime, and I would put his credentials and his experience up against any of the other so-called scientists we sometimes hear referred to.

...

Take Jacques Chirac's comment. First of all, he is the only person I know of who ever suggested that Jacques Chirac speaks for America. But having said what he said about Jack Chirac and global governance, global governance is something that Presidents have dealt with in the context of the U.N. without ever considering giving up the sovereignty of the United States. ...  Global governance does not have to be this bugaboo word that is used to scare people that somehow we are giving up the sovereignty of the United States. Every one of these arguments just kind of melts away like the ice itself.

Now that the wife was defended, the bogus Inhofe "science" was refuted, and the "bugaboo" global governance meme has been laid to rest, it was time for prosecutor Kerry to seal the deal of Inhofe's idiocy.  

Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, I would like to ask the Senator a question, if I may.

Mr. INHOFE. On your time, go ahead.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

Mr. KERRY. On my time.

The Senator said he had a whole lot of peer-reviewed studies. I would ask the Senator a simple question: Does he have one peer-reviewed study that says conclusively global climate change is not happening as a consequence of human activity, and, No. 2, that it is not happening. Does he have a peer-reviewed study that says that?

Mr. INHOFE. Let me respond to that question. Of course I do not have that.

Okay, he's just admitted he's got nothing.  Now onto the vote.  Surely, after such an infuriating debate, all Democrats would back Sen. Kerry up for his water amendment?  Right?  Wrong.

Ds Voting YES:
Daniel Akaka (HI), Evan Bayh(IN), Joseph Biden(DE), Jeff Bingaman(NM), Barbara Boxer(CA), Maria Cantwell(WA), Ben Cardin(MD), Thomas Carper-DE, Bob Casey-PA, Hillary Clinton-NY, Christopher Dodd-CT, Byron Dorgan-ND, Dick Durbin-IL, Russell Feingold-WI, Dianne Feinstein-CA, Tom Harkin-IA, Daniel Inouye-HI, Edward Kennedy-MA, John Kerry-MA, Amy Klobuchar-MN, Herb Kohl-WI, Mary Landrieu-LA, Frank Lautenberg-NJ, Patrick Leahy-VT, Carl Levin-MI, Blanche Lincoln-NE, Claire McCaskill-MO, Robert Menéndez-NJ, Barbara Mikulski-MD, Patty Murray-WA, Bill Nelson-FL, Barack Obama-IL, Jack Reed-RI, Harry Reid-NV, Chuck Schumer-NY, Debbie Stabenow-MI, Jon Tester-MT, Sheldon Whitehouse-RI, Ron Wyden-OR, Joseph Lieberman-CT, Bernard Sanders-VT

Rs Voting YES:
Norm Coleman-MN, Susan Collins-ME, Pete Domenici-NM, Judd Gregg-NH, Richard Lugar-IN, Gordon Smith-OR, Olympia Snowe-ME, Arlen Specter-PA, John Sununu-NH, John Warner-VA

Ds Voting NO:
Max Baucus-MT, Robert Byrd-WV, Kent Conrad-ND, Ben Nelson-NE, Mark Pryor-AR, Kenneth Salazar-CO, Jim Webb-VA

Rs Voting NO:
Lamar Alexander-TN, Wayne Allard-CO, Robert Bennett-UT, Kit Bond-MO, Jim Bunning-KY, Richard Burr-NC, Saxby Chambliss-GA, Tom Coburn-OK, Thad Cochran-MS, Bob Corker-TN, John Cornyn-TX, Larry Craig-ID, Michael Crapo-ID, John Ensign-NV, Michael Enzi-WY, Lindsey Graham-SC, Charles Grassley-IA, Chuck Hagel-NE, Orrin Hatch-UT, Kay Bailey Hutchison-TX, James Inhofe-OK, Johnny Isakson-GA, Jon Kyl-AZ, Trent Lott-MS, Mel Martinez-FL, Mitch McConnell-KY, Lisa Murkowski-AK, Pat Roberts-KS, Jeff Sessions-AL, Richard Shelby-AL, Ted Stevens-AK, Craig Thomas-WY, John Thune-SD, David Vitter-LA, George Voinovich-OH

NOT VOTING:
Sherrod Brown-OH, Tim Johnson-SD, Jay Rockefeller-WV, Sam Brownback-KS, Jim DeMint-SC, Elizabeth Dole-NC, John McCain-AZ

link

We in Virginia are still puzzling over why Warner voted yes, and Webb voted no.  So far the Senate office has not answered our question.  But the larger point is, we still have work to do with our own side of the aisle.  Because these elected officials need to understand why they were voted in -- at the very least, the American people are really sick and tired of oil coming from despotic regimes, and more and more people have become very concerned about global warming.  Kerry's amendment would have dealt with the reality of what global climate change is doing to our environment.  And if we can't get our own people in line, then how are we expected to "inspire" Republicans to take this issue seriously.  This is our challenge.  Senator?

This won't be easy, and it won't happen on the cheap. But, as John F Kennedy once told a crowd at Rice University in Texas, "We choose to go to the moon in this decade ...., not because [it is] easy, but because [it is] hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win"

Great challenges bring greatness to those who master them, and either through the ferocity of our fight or the weakness of our willpower, this will be the challenge that defines us. I choose to fight. So for the second time in our history let's declare and win our independence. This time not from foreign rule but from foreign oil. If we are as Lincoln said the "last best hope of Earth," let's stop being the denier of global warming that endangers the Earth. Let's give our people back the truth, and let's give the world back its future.

Amen.  The speech is on the front page of C-SPAN now.

Tags: global climate change, James Inhofe, John Kerry (all tags)

Comments

2 Comments

Re: Kerry: Democrats not elected to be just like R

The Q&A session, for that matter, the whole speech Kerry gave about climate change at the National Press Club was a barn-burner.  He certainly didn't hold back.

It's available on the front page of cspan right now

Nat'l Press Club Luncheon with Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) (6/6/2007)

under the heading "Recent Programs".

Here's the direct link if you want to try it that way later...

rtsp://video.c-span.org/project/energy/e nergy060607_kerry.rm?mode=compact

by vbdietz 2007-06-08 08:19AM | 0 recs
Re: Kerry:

The fact is that no one listens to Kerry anymore.  He had his chance and he blew it so he can keep talking all he wants but Americans have tuned him out- he has made too many mistakes and taking the time to listen to what he has to say now is just asking too much of people when there are so many others that deserve our attention when time is limited.  That's just how it goes.  He is no longer relevant.

by reasonwarrior 2007-06-08 01:13PM | 0 recs

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