President Obama told reporters this morning that throughout much of the world, there are officials who argue about all kinds of issues, but the "one thing they're not arguing about is whether the science of climate change is real and whether or not we have to do something about it."
Obama added, in a not-so-subtle shot at the Republican radicals running to replace him, "I think the president of the United States is going to need to think this is really important. Your credibility and America's ability to influence events depends on taking seriously what other countries care about."
The problem, of course, is that the GOP presidential hopefuls aren't especially concerned with credibility on the international stage. The New York Times' David Brooks explained this morning that the Republican Party "has come to resemble a Soviet dictatorship" when it comes to climate science: even politicians who know the truth about global warming say otherwise "because they're afraid the thought police will knock on their door and drag them off to an AM radio interrogation."
As if on cue, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) told MSNBC this morning that there is no climate "crisis." Asked if he's relying on evidence, the governor replied, "That's my feeling. I didn't say I was relying on any scientist."
And nothing says "presidential leadership in the 21st century" better than relying on "feelings" rather than facts.
Christie's comments follow Sen. Marco Rubio's (R-Fla.) interview with Fox News' Greta Van Susteren, where the climate-denying senator stuck to his stale talking points -- "the climate changing has always been changing" -- before viewers saw this amazing exchange.
VAN SUSTEREN: Do you disagree with the president saying that it's very important to future generations? RUBIO: Well, that's not what he is saying. What he is saying is that it's the greatest threat facing future generations and that I don't agree with. I think the greatest threat facing future generations domestically is $19 trillion debt for which there is no answer in place.
Remember, among Beltway insiders, Rubio's supposed to be one of the wonkier members of the Republican presidential field.
To the extent that reality still matters, the notion that the national debt -- which Rubio is eager to add to with massive tax breaks for the wealthy that the country obviously can't afford -- poses a greater threat to the future than the climate crisis is simply bonkers.
The fact that Rubio represents the state of Florida, of all places, where rising sea levels pose an existential threat, makes his posture that much more bizarre.
In the same interview, the senator added in reference to the climate scientists he's inclined to ignore, "Some, you know -- the target being said by some is 2-degree Celsius change, that they think that two more degrees and a warming that that would somehow trigger some terrible global impact. But there are now scientists saying that's basically an arbitrary number."
It's apparently better, in Rubio's mind, to do nothing and pretend the problem will just go away on its own.
If elected president next year, Rubio would be the only head of state of any democracy on the planet to reject climate science. I'm inclined to repeat what President Obama said this morning: "I think the president of the United States is going to need to think this is really important. Your credibility and America's ability to influence events depends on taking seriously what other countries care about."