Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Ryan Lizza on Climate Change Legislation

Ryan Lizza has a fantastic article ("As the World Burns") in the current New Yorker that explains the failure of climate change legislation during the course of 2009-2010. It's the best article I have read this year in terms of delving deep into a topic, and it's a welcome antidote to the even-worse-than-usual horserace coverage leading up to this year's Congressional elections.

The central character in Lizza's article is Lindsay Graham, who tried mightily (and unsuccessfully) to build a Senate coalition to pass an energy bill. My sense is that Graham may be one of the few "do-ers" in Congress right now, motivated less by ideology than by pragmatism (interesting that his South Carolina colleague Jim DeMint is the exact opposite: an ideologue whose primary goal seems to be show-boating rather than legislating).

Along with Joe Lieberman and John Kerry, Graham made the strategic decision to try to gain the support of special interest groups (in particular the Chamber of Commerce) rather than individual Republican senators (my old faves Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins do not come across very well in the article).

Alas, at the key point in the process (late winter // early spring of this year), Graham was essentially abandoned by (1) the Obama Adminstration (which decided they'd spent enough political capital on health care reform) and (2) Harry Reid (for purely cynical electoral reasons).

It's a really tragic tale of policy and politics, and extremely well-told by Lizza.

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