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July 25, 2010

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Posted: 24 Jul 2010 11:04 PM PDT

Why is the Obama Administration Blaming Environmentalists for Its Failures?

Posted: 24 Jul 2010 11:43 AM PDT

Michael Perelman is puzzled by the administration's attempt to blame environmentalists for the failure of climate change legislation:

 Politico reports that the Obama folk blame the Greens for the failure of its energy bill because it was THEIR responsibility to lobby...  So, here is the story: misinformed Greens voted for Obama for change, but the change was that it was the responsibility of the Greens to create the change.
Of course, the White House needs a strong grassroots movement to fight powerful interests, but it also has the responsibility to lead that movement rather than make deals with those whom the grass roots people oppose. ...

Here's the part of the story linked above the raised Michael's ire:

...The blame game has already begun. One exasperated administration official on Thursday lambasted the environmentalists – led by the Environmental Defense Fund – for failing to effectively lobby GOP senators. "They didn't deliver a single Republican," the official told Politico. "They spent like $100 million and they weren't able to get a single Republican convert on the bill."

But many say it was Obama who didn't do enough to make the climate bill a big enough priority, allowing other monster big-ticket items like the economic stimulus, health care and Wall Street reform to suck up all the oxygen and leaving environmentalists grasping for straws too late in the game – well past the expiration date for other big accomplishments during the 111th Congress.

"The absence of direct, intense presidential leadership doomed this process," said Eric Pooley... Going back to Day One, Obama never turned his campaign proposals into formal legislative text, leaving lawmakers to shoulder the load. And when Obama spoke publicly about the issue, it was only with a vague call for "comprehensive energy and climate" measures that did little to help win votes. ...

The leadership from the administration on climate change has been about as effective as its leadership on additional stimulus and job creation. At least they aren't blaming the unemployed for their failure to lobby effectively for a jobs bill. It's not possible to give the administration a passing grade for effort in either case, let alone for results.

In fairness, this is one official speaking, I don't think the administration more generally is pushing the line that the failure of climate change legislation is due to lack of effective lobbying by environmental groups. I suppose it can be argued that these groups couldn't even move the administration to effective action, but I doubt that's an argument the administration will want to make. In any case, it has more to do with the administration's misguided notion that bipartisan, centrist victories will be anything more than Pyrrhic – if they can get them at all –  than it does with lack of attempts from the left to get the administration to pursue these objectives.

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