During last night’s exhaustive Republican debate on CNN, running over three hours, moderator Jake Tapper waited until nearly the end, nearing 11:00pm EST to address one of, if not the, most important issue of this election. Fit between a question about marijuana and one on vaccines, climate change received only a blink of an eye, two question and a response from 2 ½ candidates.
The responses were obvious. Rubio, after lauding US leadership all night, returned to his rhetoric that climate action by the US will do nothing to stop China and India from continuing to pollute. “The US is not a planet,” he correctly stated.
Scott Walker and Chris Christie agreed with Rubio that the climate is a runaway train and any policy to combat the change is futile. The fatalist answers were akin to saying “Iran, Russia, N. Korea and ISIS are going to conspire to kill us and there’s nothing we can do about it so who cares. It’s not worth destroying the economy to fight something that’s going to happen no matter what.” Although when Iran, Russia, N. Korea and ISIS came up extensively, question after hypothetical question, the candidates took a different tack all together. Trillions spent on war is patriotic.
Still, their pessimism no longer questions the existence of climate change, just our ability to mitigate the damage, a baby step in the right direction for Republicans. Ted Cruz tried desperately to separate himself from the apparent concession, shouting over Jake Tapper, “I’d like to say I am a skeptic, I am a skeptic,” as Tapper tried to move on to vaccines.
The problem wasn’t necessarily Rubio, Christie or Walker’s limp dick bravado, or Cruz’s bid to the oil companies (many of whom have fully accepted the reality of man-made climate change) that they still have a red herring in Washington. The problem was CNN.
Republicans can have demented priorities, like thinking Obamacare, Iran, Planned Parenthood, (Iran/Planned Parenthood if you’re Carly Fiorina), Trump with nukes, Kim Davis and the war on Christianity, border walls and biometrics are more important that the condition of our planet. Repbulicans do, candidates and party alike. But as a debate host CNN has an obligation to conduct itself and their debates intelligently.
Television constantly has us asking, “Is this real?”; a portrayal of reality with a producer's nudge, a director’s slant, a character’s motive. Cable news and our electoral process has gone the same way.
Tapper, rather that focusing on issues critical to the country and the world, pandered to a Republican audience, asking question after question important to only the far right. Reince Priebus could have moderated and we’d have the same debate. Ask too many climate questions and conservatives take a piss or change the channel as if the climate of our earth is Yankees/Red Sox. Fox News, OK. CNN, I should have known.
These debates will never be about politics so long as their televised by companies with boards who look at ratings. Which may be the same answer why we still debate climate, why we can’t act. While the set and the actors look like politics, at a debate or on Capitol Hill, the goal isn’t governing for the people, but profit for shareholders.