One of President Obama's pretensions is the pose of objectivity. Reversing his predecessor's policy on stem cell research, he boasted of restoring "science to its rightful place." Lobbying for his health care overhaul, he claims to advance "evidence-based analysis" as though opponents are relying on myth or superstition. And campaigning for the cap-and-trade energy bill, he declared, "We must not be prisoners of the past. Don't believe the misinformation out there that suggests there is somehow a contradiction between investing in clean energy and economic growth. It's just not true."
In reality, far from standing for empiricism, President Obama much more often fronts for a rigid ideology. He is new and fresh. The ideas he champions not only fail as an empirical matter, they fail even to pass the test of common sense.
Consider the Waxman/Markey energy bill that the president and Speaker Pelosi were able to squeak to passage in the House. This legislation, born of the liberal weakness for grandiose and world-shaking ambitions, promises nothing less than to save our planet from mankind's folly.
Leave aside for the moment that following a (mere) 30-year warming trend, global temperatures have flatlined since 2001; how in the world can the president argue that by making energy more expensive for American businesses and consumers, we are going to have any measurable effect whatever on the global output of CO2? As Peter Huber helpfully outlines in City Journal, "Carbon Econ 101": "We rich people can't stop the world's 5 billion poor people from burning the couple of trillion tons of cheap carbon that they have within easy reach." China, which has already passed the United States as the world's chief emitter of CO2, is adding 100 gigawatts of coal-fired electricity per year. That amounts to another U.S.A.'s worth of coal consumption every three years. The rest of the developing world is rushing to do the same. Brazil, Indonesia, India, and South Africa are burning coal because it is cheap and plentiful. And no one is even asking them to refrain because to do so is to ask them to remain poor.