Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is hardly the only prominent Republican who's struggling when it comes to climate science. As Jill Lawrence explained well, "The 2016 Republican presidential primaries are already showing signs of turning into a competition to win the title of 'candidate most dismissive of science.' As a political strategy, this is as depressing as it is understandable."
But Rubio nevertheless seems to be struggling more than most.
Marco Rubio said his liberal critics show their "hypocrisy" when they cite science and label him a climate-change denier when they decline to embrace the science of human life beginning at conception.In an interview with Sean Hannity on Wednesday afternoon, the Florida senator brushed off a backlash labeling him as a climate-change denier by aggressively accusing left-leaning critics as hypocrites given their abortion rights positions. He said emphatically that the "science is settled" that life begins at conception but that liberals "will never admit" to it.
Rubio, apparently feeling a bit defense, launched quite a diatribe on the Fox News host's radio show. "Let me give you a bit of settled science that they'll never admit to. The science is settled, it's not even a consensus, it is a unanimity, that human life begins at conception," the Florida Republican said. "So I hope the next time someone wags their finger about science, they'll ask one of these leaders on the left: 'Do you agree with the consensus of science that human life begins at conception?'"
Rubio added, "It's a proven fact. That's a scientific consensus they choose to ignore."
The argument from the senator seems to be that liberals often support abortion rights, so he's justified in rejecting climate science.
In other words, Rubio is looking to rationalize his decision to deliberately ignore overwhelming evidence and the scientific consensus. That is itself an ignoble pursuit -- willful ignorance rarely leads to positive results -- but in this case, it's especially problematic. Indeed, Chris Hayes labeled it "a train wreck of incoherence."
Note, the GOP senator isn't denying the fact that he chooses to reject the scientific consensus on climate change. Rather, Rubio is saying his critics are guilty of "hypocrisy" -- if the left can deny abortion science, he shouldn't face criticism for ignoring climate science.
Whether Rubio is prepared to accept this or not, the comparison really doesn't make much sense. There is no scientific "unanimity" that "human life begins at conception." It is, to be sure, a complex, multi-disciplinary question, but to assume that the entire scientific canon endorses Rubio's line on abortion is absurd.
What's more, this attempt to change the subject is clumsy, even for him. Rubio embraced the climate denier line on Sunday, then made things worse with an attempted clarification, and then effectively ended up with, "Oh yeah? Abortion!"
There's been a fair amount of commentary this week that Rubio has "disqualified himself" for the presidency with his hostility for science. With each passing day, he seems to be making matters worse.