Paul Tullis's Grim Tidings

Bitter musings on politics and policy

Why Obama is like Sully Sullenberger

with 9 comments


Imagine my surprise reading an editorial in the Wall Street Journal yesterday saying “the ethanol boondoggle is also an environmental catastrophe.” This is the editorial page that never wastes a chance to argue in favor of business over ecology—all of a sudden the minions of Paul Gigot are concerned about environmental catastrophes? Flummoxed, I read on.

The piece describes a paper in Science showing what many have suspected for at least a year: If you account for the emissions resulting from the clearing of forests in order to grow plants for biofuels, biofuels like ethanol are no longer carbon neutral. The editorial continues:

Cap-and-trade programs exacerbate the problem because developed countries (where emissions are putatively capped) get credit for reductions from ethanol—despite the fact that their biofuels are generally grown in developing countries (where emissions aren’t capped). So if Malaysians burn down a rain forest to grow palm oil that ends up in German biodiesel, Malaysia doesn’t count the land-use emissions and Germany doesn’t count the tail-pipe emissions.

This is a serious problem, to be sure. But the WSJ editorial page has spent the last 20 years or more claiming that climate change is bullshit. Why are they arguing that Waxman-Markey erred in banning the study of land-use changes as a gift to farm states?

Because it’s a chance to beat up on President Obama, of course! How could they ever pass that up?

Look, I’ve been pretty disappointed in much that Obama has and hasn’t done so far. But the man is the Sully Sullenberger (pilot who landed the plane with two dead engines in the Hudson River back in January, remember?) of politics. The country is the plane, the Bush administration are the geese, the economy is one engine and the wars are the other. In this metaphor, well, the Republicans are the ground: They exist to foil the captain’s purpose, even if it means crashing the plane.

Editorials like this one prove it. If these people are so disingenuous as to defend something as a critical component of something they’ve done nothing but decry, there’s really no value in anything else they have to say. Ttheir motives are not intellectual, but purely political.

It’s sad, pathetic, and unpatriotic, and it demonstrates the emotional maturity of a 12-year-old. Do we really want people like that running our country?

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9 Responses

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  1. I agree, but then didn’t the left do the same thing when Bush was in office? It did. Truth is, the opposition party, if completely unable to block the party in charge, is reduced to what you describe. It’s always been the same.


    October 30, 2009 at 10:00 pm

  2. Sorry but that’s a terrible analogy. Sully and his crew acted instantly,decisively and successfully. Obama and the Dems not even close.


    October 30, 2009 at 10:11 pm

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Solar Power, John Power. John Power said: Paul Tullis – The Green of Green – Why Obama is like Sully … […]

  4. I was referring to the situation Obama’s been thrown into, not his response. I agree that the White House and Congressional leadership have at times been timid, flaccid and inept. But they are trying to govern, and in the face of unremitting, uncompromising opposition that adheres only to the principle of opposition for it’s own sake, whereas Republicans when in power are expressly interested in _not_ governing (see: constant paeans to “small government”, dismantling of FEMA, inactivity of OSHA and DOJ’s Office of Civil Rights etc.). When doing nothing is a core element of your ideology it’s easy to claim success.

    I do not agree that many liberals have engaged in the same rhetorical devices as conservatives. Openness and truth-telling are central to liberalism, whereas conservatism as currently practiced focusses only on acquisition of power, honesty be damned (see: Iraq’s WMD, Nigerian yellowcake, etc.) The WSJ editorial page provides an almost-daily demonstration of this. I’d challenge you to show me 10 NY Times editorials containing falsehoods (by omission or commission) or rhetorical inconsistency, like that I’ve outlined here and elsewhere on this blog, during Republicans’ control of the White House and Congress. I could give you 10 from the Journal in 2009 alone.

    It’s also relevant that there is mo major daily paper that is as far left as the Journal is far right.

    Thanks for reading.

    Paul Tullis

    November 1, 2009 at 8:45 pm

  5. I am a liberal, but I have to take issue with the statement “openness and truth-telling are central to liberalism”. I think that’s something we like to tell ourselves, but if we’re being honest, we can hold no more claim to transparency or honesty than conservatives can. Both sides either lie outright, or by omission; both sides demonize and dehumanize the other. Unfortunately, the only real truth nowadays in media is that there appear to be many truths that are accepted as such by the consumers of said media. Partisans seek out partisan media and decry the abuses of the “other side”. And it’s all so tiring, isn’t it?


    November 1, 2009 at 10:32 pm

    • As I said, I’d like to see specific examples of liberal media lying outright or by omission, or examples of media or politicians engaging in anything close to the demonizing and dehumanizing that Republicans exercise every day.

      Paul Tullis

      November 3, 2009 at 6:46 pm

      • I will give you an example (much as I hate to defend the administration of the former president):

        This was an underreported story to say the least, most left-wing publications choosing to ignore it altogether. Was it a “lie by omission”? No. Was it conveniently ignored by the MSM. Absolutely.

        Look, I’m not trying to get into a fight with you. I just think that by and large, both sides love to watch the other side fail. To suggest otherwise is to reveal one’s own true partisanship and therefore cede honesty on the issue. I’m done.


        November 3, 2009 at 7:05 pm

      • I agree that both sides love to watch the other side fail and I don’t believe I suggested otherwise. I’m not trying to be argumentative either, and I agree that I think we’ve exhausted this line of discussion, but I can’t let a factual error pass. The Bush AIDS program in Africa was covered by the NY Times 7 times during the month in which the article you cite appeared. What was less reported, if memory serves, is that much of the money Bush slated for AIDS relief in Africa came from funds that had been earmarked for malaria-eradication efforts. So the net benefit of Bush’s African aid policy is debatable. Cheers, PT

        Paul Tullis

        November 3, 2009 at 7:50 pm

  6. I’m clearly going to lose in the battle to cite facts here. I’ll bow before you on that point. 😉 Although, despite having covered Bush’s AIDS policy in Africa, I wonder where in the NYT that ended up. Surely not above the fold, if even on the front page?

    I think what I took issue with — and, again, I consider myself left-of-center — was the initial assertion that somehow the left was free of blame where it comes to beating up on the opposition. I heard no end of people in my political circle — and if I’m being honest, myself included — who expressed no end of glee when Bush was on the ropes. And MSNBC’s enjoyment of the same has been well-known for awhile now.

    But you’re right that I cannot cite specifics where left-leaning media has lied. However, I don’t concede that it hasn’t happened. Certainly those on the right would assert it has already, for years even. I think so much depends on one’s perspective.

    I have a cousin in the government who worked under Rumsfeld and despite our disagreements, the one thing he and I came together on was that this country has become more and more partisan — in his words, “closer than he’s ever seen to another Civil War” — and how damaging it’s been.

    Hopefully Obama’s greatest legacy is his ultimate ability to calmly rise above it all. And in that way, perhaps he is like Captain Sullenberger after all.


    November 3, 2009 at 8:41 pm

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