But he doesn't seem willing to do anything other than talk in order to combat it. Although he claims that climate change is a central point of his campaign of late, he has no plans to even be in the neighborhood when the Senate votes on a landmark bill to impose mandatory limits on greenhouse gases.
In a press conference late Wednesday afternoon, McCain said he did not support the bill sponsored by two of his closest allies, Sens. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) and John Warner (R-Va.) because it doesn’t offer enough aid to the nuclear industry, and he would not come to the floor to vote on it.Keep that statement in mind for a moment. "I have not been there for a number of votes." That seems to be his strategy when it comes time to do anything other than simply talk about the environment. He uses the tactic of avoidance whenever he could actually take action to back up his words on hte environment.
"I have not been there for a number of votes. The same thing happened in the campaign of 2000," he said. "The people of Arizona understand I’m running for president."
"I'm proud of my record on the environment," he said at a news conference Friday at the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City. "As president, I will dedicate myself to addressing the issue of climate change globally."McCain's lifetime score with the League of Conservation Voters is 26% (compared with 96% for Obama and 90% for Clinton); Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund's conservation report card gave him 38 percent in the 108th Congress and 40 in the 109th, with a 39% lifetime score. But for this session of Congress, McCain managed to miss every single vote in regards to environmental issues, so both groups give him a zero rating - technically, "N/A" for the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund). (By comparison, Obama and Clinton each missed 4 out of 15 key environmental votes.) Overall, McCain's attitude toward the environment is merely a part of his strategy to lure independent voters away from Obama; the difference is, Obama is willing to work toward improving the environment. McCain is only willing to talk about it. That doesn't make him an environment maverick - it makes him a hypocrite.
But an examination of McCain's voting record shows an inconsistent approach to the environment: He champions some "green" causes while casting sometimes contradictory votes on others.
The senator from Arizona has been resolute in his quest to impose a federal limit on greenhouse gas emissions, even when it means challenging his own party. But he has also cast votes against tightening fuel-efficiency standards and resisted requiring public utilities to offer a specific amount of electricity from renewable sources. He has worked to protect public lands in his home state, winning a 2001 award from the National Parks Conservation Association for helping give the National Park Service some say over air tours around the Grand Canyon, work that prompts former interior secretary and Arizona governor Bruce Babbitt to call him "a great friend of the canyon." But he has also pushed to set aside Endangered Species Act protections when they conflict with other priorities, such as the construction of a University of Arizona observatory on Mount Graham.
Given McCain's contradictory attitude on any number of subjects, how many people actually believe that the new green John McCain is something that they can believe in? John McCain seems unable to stop lying. At times, it's passive, like when he urges divestment and sanctions against Iran, despite the fact that his campaign manager, Rick Davis, was lobbying for clients who did extensive business with Iran.
But too often, he's actively lying, like when he states that he supports our veterans, despite rarely voting to help them (to include voting against the Webb/Hagel veteran's benefits bill, because giving veterans too many benefits might make them want to leave the military). Or when he tries to claim, in New Orleans, that he's consistently supported the people of New Orleans - at which point the DNC issues a press release citing specific examples which show how McCain has consistently voted against helping the people of New Orleans.
I cannot think of a single issue that McCain hasn't done a complete turn-around on, in an effort to improve his chances of getting elected. And there are people out there who still think he's honest.
It's hard to believe.
Update (6/6/08): But I suppose there is another viewpoint after all. C & L (one of the all-time great sites) pointed me to a short article+video posted on the Atlantic.com website by Matthew Yglesias, where he points out:
In some ways, I think McCain himself doesn't quite realize how Bush-esque he is. He clearly doesn't like Bush, and has been disliking him for a long time. But that kind of personalized, overblown disdain for Bush-the-man can wind up leading you to overestimate Bush-the-grand-strategist. To McCain, Bush's policies have failed because of Bush. Replace Bush with McCain and shift tactics around the margins, and the same basic ideas should work out fine. It's a nice theory, but I don't think it's a true theory.So there you go. It's always possible that John McCain isn't a complete liar: perhaps he's just deluded. And his attempts to change his past opinions may not be lying, either: it may just be evidence that he's trying to bring the public record in line with what he wants to remember about himself. Again, deluded. And still not somebody you'd want in the White House.