Friday, February 8, 2008

Environmental Partisanship

Now that McCain is all but certain to become the Republican presidential nominee, many of the partisan "green groups" have wasted no time in launching attacks at probably the one conservative Republican who has dared risk his own political capital to move forward environmental issues these groups claim to care so much about. (See the article below this post)

It doesn't take a genius to see what's going on here -- its been going on for decades in Washington and is reason #1 why most Republican offices have NO incentive to ever work cooperatively with most environmental groups on environmental issues.

I remember well when I worked for a very conservative U.S. Senator trying to work with some of these groups to find a compromise on environmental issues. Some of my fellow Republican staffers who had been around longer than I put it like this:

Enviro groups will NEVER stick with a Republican even if he/she does what they want on the environment. Whatever a Republican does will NEVER be good enough --
and these groups will ALWAYS support a Republican's opponent because they
are ideologically liberal. So - the only thing that comes from working with these
groups is that you anger your home constituency and get treated worse by the
enviro groups for even venturing a toe into their "green" turf than if you always
voted against them every time.

Its sad to say, but I have seen this bear out more times than I can count -- and here is just another case in point. Just look at the green "pile on" in the story below for Sen. McCain missing a vote on the STIMULUS PACKAGE -- not an environmental bill. Saying things like "this erodes all the goodwill he generated with environmentalists." And talking about how all the leadership he has done on the climate change issue is now worthless because "he wasn't there when he was needed" -- again, on a vote for the STIMULUS PACKAGE!!

Is it fair to criticize the Senator for missing the vote -- because it contained some tax incentives for clean energy? Sure. But once again, the green extreme team of Friends of the Earth, this time joined by Sierra Club and Environment America (which is just a spin off of another radical enviro group) have gone beyond what is fair and using this as the opportunity they would have created anyway to back away from and then bash Sen. McCain for daring to try to work with them to solve what they describe as the biggest environmental threat of all time.

I'm just so sick of this -- which is a major reason I started this blog. This kind of partisan hackery needs to be called for what it is -- and not disguised any longer as true concern for the environment. I don't care if they want to dedicate their lives to making sure that only liberal people are elected -- fine. But then call yourselves what you are -- a liberal action network, not one that is protecting the environment -- unless of course you define protecting the environment as destroying any chance to pass pro-environmental legislation. To do that, requires a MAJORITY of votes -- which means . . . say it with me . . . you need some REPUBLICANS.

When you tar and feather the guy who has done the most recently on the biggest environmental issue of the day -- what message are you sending about your desire to work for change? About your commitment to bi-partisanship? About your commitment to SOLUTIONS?? You are saying you don't care about the environment enough to set politics aside for the environment.

I'm glad to have found that there are environmental groups out there who do stay out of the politics and are genuinely willing to do the hard work of building up people and issues into a long-lasting coalition that brings change. Again, groups like The Nature Conservancy, Environmental Defense, National Wildlife Federation are providing an incredibly important service to the environment and their members by being positively engaged. But too often their approach is not the norm in the green community -- and it will never become the norm as long as no one explains how detrimental the partisan enviro groups really are to the whole cause.

CAMPAIGN 2008: McCain's failure to vote on stimulus draws enviro groups' fire (02/07/2008)

Alex Kaplun, Greenwire reporter

Sen. John McCain's decision to skip last night's vote on the Democrats' stimulus plan is drawing fire from environmentalists, who -- until now -- have refrained from criticizing the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination.

Although the Arizona senator has a mixed reputation among environmentalists, many see him as a Republican willing to side with Democrats on key energy votes. But leaders of several major advocacy groups said today that McCain's refusal to vote on the stimulus package -- which included extensions of tax credits for renewable energy projects -- might have squandered his goodwill with environmentalists.

"When his presence was needed most, he didn't show up," said Brent Blackwelder, president of Friends of the Earth Action. "That is not straight talk. It is not being a friend of the environment."

The stimulus package failed to pick up the 60 votes needed last night in a 58-41 vote. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) switched his vote to a 'no' at the last minute in order to reserve the right to bring the bill back later.

Reid said this morning he would continue talks with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) about moving ahead on stimulus legislation, although he conceded that there might not be a vote until tomorrow or early next week. "We don't have a way forward yet," he said, "and we're going to see if we can continue working to see if we can have a way forward."

McCain was the only lawmaker who was not present for last night's vote. Both Democratic presidential candidates -- Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois -- voted in favor of the legislation.

The stimulus vote created a potentially difficult political situation for McCain.

On the one hand, the package contained not only energy incentives but also aid for seniors and disabled veterans -- issues that likely would play well for McCain on the campaign trail.

But the legislation was opposed by both President Bush and the Senate Republican leaders, and political strategists say that one of McCain's biggest challenges will be gaining the support of his party's conservative base. Winning that support might be more complicated with a vote against conservative interests on a highly visible bill.

McCain was in Washington yesterday, but he failed to appear on the floor for the vote. A McCain spokeswoman said he would have voted against the legislation. "Even if he were here, his vote would not have affected the outcome," spokeswoman Melissa Shuffield said.

'It's critical'

The stimulus vote came one day after Super Tuesday primaries in which McCain won several big states and appeared to be pulling away from his rivals in the race for the Republican presidential nomination.

Environmentalists argued that McCain's failure to vote undermines many promises he made in the days leading up to Super Tuesday -- particularly his vows to address global warming and reduce U.S. reliance on fossil fuels.

"All eyes were on John McCain yesterday, when you lose narrowly by one vote, you don't show up, it's critical," said Melinda Pierce, a lobbyist with the Sierra Club. "He's been heard all around the country talking about supporting clean energy and dealing with climate change, but when the rubber hits the road, he wasn't there."

This was the second time in recent months that McCain failed to cast what could have been a deciding vote on a major piece of energy legislation.

In mid-December, Senate Democrats failed to defeat, in a 59-40 vote, a GOP filibuster on the sweeping energy bill that contained tax provisions to boost investments for alternative energy technology. McCain was the only senator to not vote on the legislation; he was campaigning in Iowa that day.

Most major environmental groups have yet to endorse a candidate for president and it remains unclear exactly when they would do so. Group leaders say they expect McCain's recent lack of votes to become an issue in the general election as he tries to sway voters by using his position on energy issues.

"I think people will weigh his stated concern about global warming ... with him not being there," said Anna Aurilio, head of the Washington office for the group Environment America.

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