Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s (R) rhetoric has been increasingly unnerving of late, but this is one of his sillier contributions to the discourse.
At a breakfast for reporters Tuesday hosted by the Christian Science Monitor, the Republican governor attacked President Barack Obama for not fully taking advantage of the United States’ fossil fuel and energy resources.“The reality is right now we’ve got an administration in the Obama administration that are science deniers when it comes to harnessing America’s energy resources and potential to create good-paying jobs for our economy and for our future,” Jindal said. “Right now we’ve got an administration whose policies are holding our economy hostage.”
Right off the bat, it seems the governor may not fully grasp the whole “hostage” metaphor. It generally involves a hostage taker threatening harm unless paid a ransom. When congressional Republicans, for example, said they’d refuse to raise the debt ceiling, push the nation into default, and crash the economy on purpose unless their demands were met, that was “holding our economy hostage.”
On the other hand, the United States, since Obama has become president, has become the world leader in production of oil and natural gas. What’s more, for the first time in a generation, the U.S. is producing more oil than it imports. This really doesn’t sound like much of a “hostage” strategy.
But more interesting still is the notion of Obama administration officials becoming “science deniers.” I’m not sure why a Republican governor – and likely presidential candidate – would want to pick this particular fight, but let’s go ahead and subject Jindal’s rhetoric to a little fact-checking.
The governor’s phrase, which I fear we’ll be hearing more of, is no doubt intended to reference “climate deniers” – those who reject climate science and deny global warming.
Because climate deniers dominate so much of Republican politics, Jindal apparently hopes to turn the tables. It’s not going to work.
Indeed, Jindal himself said this morning, “It’s not controversial to say human activity is contributing in some way to change. In terms of how much it is and how serious it is, I say let the scientists decide that. Let’s not have politicians decide that.”
Here’s the problem: scientists have already decided that. It’s now up to policymakers to show good judgment and approve measures to address the scientists’ discoveries. To simply wash one’s hands of reality, and pass the buck for responsibility onto scientists with no policymaking authority, is to be a science denier.
But really, this is just the tip of the melting iceberg.
Republicans are the party hostile to global warming. They are the party hostile towards evolution. They are the party of the truly amazing GOP lineup on the House Science Committee.
Is it any wonder the Pew Research Center found a few years ago that only 6% of scientists say they support Republican candidates?
Asked to explain the phenomenon, Brigham Young University scientist Barry Bickmore, a onetime Republican convention delegate, told the Salt Lake Tribune last year, “Scientists just don’t get those people,” referencing Republicans who adhere to party orthodoxy on climate change, evolution, and other hot-button issues. “They [in the GOP] are driving us away, people like me.”
A few years ago, during the race for the Republicans’ 2012 presidential nomination, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) suggested climate science was an elaborate hoax cooked up by greedy scientists. John Weaver, the chief strategist for former Gov. John Huntsman’s campaign, responded with a sensible declaration: “We’re not going to win a national election if we become the anti-science party.”
If Jindal wants a debate over which party has “science deniers,” I suspect Democrats won’t mind.