WASHINGTON -- It was serendipitous to have almost simultaneous climaxes in Copenhagen and Congress. The former's accomplishment was indiscernible, the latter's was unsightly.
It would have been unprecedented had the president not described the outcome of the Copenhagen climate change summit as "unprecedented," that being the most overworked word in his hardworking vocabulary of self-celebration. Actually, the mountain beneath the summit -- a mountain of manufactured hysteria, predictable cupidity, antic demagoguery and dubious science -- labored mightily and gave birth to a mouselet, a 12-paragraph document committing the signatories to ... make a list.
A list of the goals they have no serious intention of trying to meet. The document even dropped the words "as soon as possible" from its call for a binding agreement on emissions.
The 1992 Rio climate summit begat Kyoto. It, like Copenhagen, which Kyoto begat, was "saved," as Copenhagen was, by a last-minute American intervention (Vice President Al Gore's) that midwifed an agreement that most signatories evaded for 12 years. The Clinton-Gore administration never submitted Kyoto's accomplishment for ratification, the Senate having denounced its terms 95-0.
Copenhagen will beget Mexico City next November. Before then, Congress will give "the international community" other reasons to pout. Congress will refuse to burden the economy with cap-and-trade carbon-reduction requirements, and will spurn calls for sending billions in "climate reparations" to China and other countries. Representatives of those nations, when they did not have their hands out in Copenhagen grasping for America's wealth, clapped their hands in ovations for Hugo Chavez and other kleptocrats who denounced capitalism while clamoring for its fruits.
The New York Times reported from Copenhagen that Barack Obama "burst into a meeting of the Chinese, Indian and Brazilian leaders, according to senior administration officials. Mr. Obama said he did not want them negotiating in secret." Naughty them. Those three nations will be even less pliable in Mexico City.
At least the president got a health care bill through the Senate. But what problem does it "solve" (Obama's word)? Not that of the uninsured, 23 million of whom will remain in 2019. Not that of rising health care spending. This will rise faster over the next decade.