One of the most frightening evils that would come with a Republican administration is being overlooked in the final days of this presidential campaign because of the nation’s understandable obsession with economic problems: With McCain-Palin we could expect nothing short of total disregard for the environment. I am not thinking only about Palin’s animosity toward polar bears and wolves. I’m also thinking about the threat of global pollution and reckless devastation of national parkland.
Palin gave an energy speech this morning, and I was surprised at how normal she sounded. Gone were the “betchas” and the “doggone-its.” She spoke regular English for a change, and her tone was sober. This was no hockey mom from Wasilla. This was a woman to be reckoned with, a woman with a mission, and it wasn’t just “drill, baby drill.” It was the urgent and untrammeled exploitation of American resources.
Her husband works for an oil company and I bet she got some of her talking points from him. But it was obvious that she sincerely believes protecting the environment is silly – if not downright un-American.
She takes the short-term view that the environment must be sacrificed to economic objectives. Her reasoning goes something like this. If a pipeline across Alaska would provide natural gas to the lower 49 states, what does it matter if a few polar bears (photo at right) die in the process? And if offshore drilling will some day increase the world’s oil supply and possibly lower gasoline prices, who cares if marine life and beaches are trashed? And why shouldn’t we sacrifice some of that pristine wilderness that was set aside for future generations to enjoy? And sure there’s global warming, but are we really, really sure that humans have anything to do with it? And if they do, so what? Hey, if you want to make an omelet, buddy, you gotta break a few eggs, right?
It’s a terrifying point of view to anyone with an imagination. And it’s a point of view McCain did not share. But he has adopted it in this campaign as a gesture to the Republican base. With Palin at his side, you can bet he will continue along that track if he becomes President. It’s one of the many Bush policies that would be pursued in a McCain-Palin Administration.
Meanwhile, Bush is hastening to do as much harm as he can before his term ends – just in case. Fearing a Barack Obama victory at the polls, he is busily dismantling environmental safeguards in the interests of his Big Business pals. The most recent example is his direction to the EPA to weaken pollution regulations for power plants, allowing them to increase emissions without adding controls. And he wants it done quickly because rules finalized more than 60 days before the administration leaves office are harder for the next administration to undo.
When Obama says Americans cannot afford four more years of Bush economic policies, he should add that four more years of Bush environmental policies would cause even more misery – in the long run. And with McCain-Palin, you can bet your boots that’s what we would get. In spades!