The Republican war on science, continued?

For going on eight years now, we have had a White House that profoundly believes that politics trumps reality, and that the Presidency carrries with it the right and the obligation to ignore inconvenient facts. People in the Bush White House say things like:

We believe the presidency requires leadership. There are times that a president will take a position that a broad support of quote-unquote experts agree with. And there are times they will take a position that quote-unquote experts do not agree with.

Get it? If you’re a “leader,” then what the “quote-unquote experts” say is irrelevant, because consensus reality is irrelevant. It’s the world of Nineteen Eighty-Four.

The good news is that the people who want four or eight more years of this sort of Presidential thinking have a choice between two strong and experienced candidates: John McCain and Hillary Clinton. The quote above isn’t actually from Ari Fleischer or Tony Snow: it’s from Howard Wolfson, explaining why Hillary Clinton supports a “gas tax holiday” that everyone who understands the problem knows would be either pointless or actively evil.

Steve Benen reports that Clinton is now using the issue to triangulate against Democratic Representatives and Senators.

“I believe it would be important to get every member of Congress on record,” Clinton told supporters at a rally in southern Indiana. “Do they stand with the hard-pressed Americans who are trying to pay their gas bills at the gas station or do they once again stand with the oil companies?

“I want to know where people stand and I want them to tell us, are they with us or against us when it comes to taking on the oil companies?” she added.

This after Nancy Pelosi bravely denounced the plan, which in fact would enrich oil refiners. (In the Clinton version, the government would take back with its left hand, in the form of a “windfall profits tax,” the money it gave with its right hand, but a windfall profits tax as usually understood hits sellers of crude oil, not the sellers of refined product who would benefit from a temporary cut in the gasoline tax.)

So in Clintonland, opposing a bill that would enrich oil refiners is “standing with the oil companies.” And she doesn’t mind splashing the first woman to be Speaker of the House with some of the mud she’s throwing at Barack Obama.


Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: