The GOP 2012 Field's Secret Climate Shame

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JONATHAN CHAIT JANUARY 3, 2011

The GOP 2012 Field's Secret Climate Shame

Mitt Romney is in a terrible position because he moved right to run for president in 2008 while defending the then-respectable Republican position that regulate-subsidize-individual mandate was a sensible approach to health care reform. That position has since become The Death Of Freedom in the conservative mind.

Another issue where Republicans have gone mad since 2008 is carbon emissions. In 2008, cap and trade was also considered a sensible Republican position. You know who's caught having endorsed the old, sane party status quo and is now on the wrong side of the new, insane party status quo? Everybody:

It may be heresy to conservatives, but a trip down memory lane shows nearly all of the top-tier Republican presidential contenders want to save the planet from global warming.

On the campaign stump, in books, speeches and nationally-televised commercials, aspiring GOP White House candidates such as Tim PawlentyMike Huckabee and Mitt Romney have warned in recent years about the threats from climate change and pledged to limit greenhouse gases. Some have even committed the ultimate sin, endorsing the controversial cap-and-trade concept that was eventually branded “cap and tax.”

Now, as they prepare for a wide-open primary season, many of the Republicans are searching for ways to explain themselves to a conservative voting base full of hungry tea party activists and climate skeptics who don't take kindly to environmental issues so closely linked with Al Gore.

"They're in an odd place," Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, told POLITICO. "They better have an explanation, an excuse or a mea culpa for why this won't happen again."

The good news for Republican candidates trying to conceal their previous acceptance of scientific consensus is that there are so many transgressors they have a kind of mutually assured destruction. Perhaps Norquist could arrange some kind of Galileo-esque heresy recantation ceremony for all of them.

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posted in: jonathan chait, al gore, grover norquist, mike huckabee, tim pawlenty, gop white house

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