It was pretty obvious to me what Mitt Romney was doing last week in Tampa when he said, with a smile, “President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet. MY promise…is to help you and your family.”
He was mocking what my colleague David Freddoso called “Obamessiah” — Obama’s posture that he had divine powers. After the final Democratic primary in June 2008, Obama said that future generations would look back on his primary victory as “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.”
But many on the environmental Left were pretty upset at Romney’s comment, seeing it as a mockery of climate change, or even of rising sea levels. Alex Pareene of Slate wrote, sarcastically, “Isn’t climate change hilarious?” and called Mitt’s joke “disgusting.” At the Huffington Post, Matt Peterson wrote, “rising seas due to global warming is real, and no damn joke.” There were plenty of others.
But the joke wasn’t rising sea levels. The joke was that Obama could control the sea levels. He can’t. Under no circumstance could public policy slow sea-level rise in the next 35 years. More on that below.
Obama also didn’t get that the joke was on him:
My plan will continue to reduce the carbon pollution that is heating our planet, because climate change is not a hoax. More droughts and floods and wildfires are not a joke. (Cheers, applause.) They are a threat to our children’s future.
What’s most interesting about that line is what Obama’s not willing to say. He no longer says he’ll do anything about it. Since his climate-change bill died in the summer of 2009, Obama has not pushed any legislation to restrict greenhouse-gas emissions. He’s decided it’s a loser, apparently, and for good reason. Polls show that people are willing to fight global warming, but not really if it means paying more.