In a widely distributed article in The New Yorker this week, Ryan Lizza documents the rise and fall of the climate bill introduced in the Senate by the â€œtripartisanâ€ trio of John Kerry, Joe Lieberman, and Lindsey Graham ("KLG"). In it, Lizza provides a fascinating and troubling account of the messy legislative process that killed the bill.
Entitled "As the World Burns," the piece reveals all that's wrong American politics today. Thomas Friedman, writing in a New York Times op-ed response to the article, calls it "an X-ray of the dysfunctions eating away at our future: politicians who only know how to read polls, never change them; media outlets serving political parties; special interests buying senators; mindless partisanship; an epidemic of low expectations for our government."
Where does the Obama administration fit in? Lizza's article clearly outlines how the White House failed to seize the opportunity to make emissions legislation a reality.
"It's a drum circle," one Senate aide lamented. "[White House representatives] come by, 'How are you feeling? Where do you think the votes are? What do you think we should do?' It's never 'Here's the plan, here's what we're doing.'"
Now, all hopes for climate legislation rest the President's recent reassertion that climate change remains at the top of his agenda. Judging from the experience of this bill, that ain't much to go on.
Photo: A Jan. 10, 2009 photo shows a flock of geese flying past a smokestack at the Jeffery Energy Center coal power plant near Emmitt, Kan. (Charlie Riedel / AP)