Jonah Goldberg

The roads are made from ice, hence constructed in winter, doing no permanent damage to the environment. As for the discordant notes such activity would introduce to the Arctic symphony, I don't know whether a falling tree makes a sound if no one is there to hear it, but I suspect that the "wild music" of the Arctic in winter is only euphonious to those - like Carter - who are not actually there to hear it.

Even in summer, people who actually live on the north coast of Alaska, like the residents of Kaktovik (just three miles north of the coastal plain where drilling might take place) overwhelmingly think good jobs in their backyard is music to their ears.

Meanwhile, is the "music" of the Grand Canyon really so pristine? Babies crying, kids chasing lizards, campers laughing, donkeys braying, cars honking: Why does this not trouble the consciences of Carter and McCain?

Perhaps it's because the analogy between ANWR and the Grand Canyon is spurious on its face. "Pristine," after all, is not synonymous with beautiful (there are ugly virgins), and "well-trafficked" is not the same as ugly (millions of people have seen the Sistine Chapel).

Indeed, before the age of environmental Romanticism had captured elite opinion in this country, such analogies didn't pass the laugh test. Both the New York Times and Washington Post editorial boards enthusiastically supported drilling in ANWR in the late 1980s. The Post noted that the area "is one of the bleakest, most remote places on this continent, and there is hardly any other where drilling would have less impact on surrounding life. ..." To say such things today is to unforgivably pollute the inane music of groupthink. And that's something even the "maverick" McCain will not do.

Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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