Environmentalists gathered in Charlotte, N.C. to watch Obama’s second nominating convention can agree that the president and his party are a lot better than the Republicans.
“Compared to the other guys, they look great,” Stephen Smith of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy said at a gathering of clean-energy activists and businesspeople on Monday night.
Attendees at the packed event remarked on how few Republicans showed up to a similar party in Tampa before last week’s Republican National Convention. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) got a few cheers when he called for Obama’s reelection.
But arguing that Obama is merely better than Republicans on climate change is a nasty sort of compliment. The president’s is a record of dashed hopes. The man who promised in 2008 to stop the rise of the oceans put health-care and financial reform before capping carbon dioxide emissions. By 2010, a Senate climate bill died as much by presidential neglect as anything else. Environmentalists were “shell-shocked,” said Smith.
But if Obama were reelected, he would have another opportunity for some big policymaking — and it is possible that good energy policy could figure into it, if he cared to press for it. By early 2013, the near-simultaneous expiration of the Bush tax rates and the activation of automatic spending cuts will force Congress to rewrite tax and spending policy, one way or another, and some green-technology advocates are looking forward to it.