Culture War Dispatches

from a Progressive People's Republic

Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Assault on the Vision of the Anointed

Al Gore has strong political views on the many subjects he covers in his book, The Assault on Reason (2007). He believes for example that global warming is manmade and catastrophic and the Iraq War was Bush-made and catastrophic. Many otherwise intelligent people share his views, and they are rightly part of a lively political discourse. Al Gore however does not see his opinions as one side of an argument. He sees them as the truth. If you agree with Al Gore politically, his book is consoling. If you disagree with him, Al Gore’s solipsism is disturbing, starting with the title; when he talks about the assault on reason, what he means by “reason” is his own eminently reasonable point of view. A better title for Gore’s book might be, The Assault on the Vision of the Anointed—with apologies to Thomas Sowell’s phrase that describes the left’s self-appointment of their views as the voice of reason.

Regarding Iraq, he states, “hardly anyone now disagrees that the choice to invade Iraq was a grievous mistake.” He seems perplexed by the fact that George Bush’s arguments have prevailed, and his only explanation is that there was no debate: “We are supposed to have a full and vigorous debate about questions as important as the choice between war and peace. So why didn’t we?” In other words had we had a vigorous debate, any reasonable person would have sided with Al Gore. But of course, we did debate what consequences Saddam Hussein should face for violating the numerous U.N. resolutions, and in the end much of the world community—including many of Al Gore’s fellow Democrats--supported George Bush.

Gore’s views on global warming have been well disseminated by the MSM: “our civilization’s tragic overdependence on burning massive quantities of carbon-based fuels” (p. 191) is the root of all evil. As with the Iraq War, Gore proclaims that the debate is over: “There is no longer any credible basis for doubting that the earth’s atmosphere is heating up because of global warming” (p. 205) (And to reverse the tautology, the globe is warming because of earth heating.)

Inconveniently, however, the debate is not over. In December 2007 the U.S. Senate released an extensive report titled, “Over 400 Prominent Scientists Disputed Man-Made Global Warming Claims in 2007.” The sub-heading is: “Senate Report Debunks ‘Consensus.’”
Global warming acolytes can of course argue with these 400 scientists, but it is increasingly difficult to accept their debate-squelching mantra that the debate is over. Al Gore’s response to this report will likely be the refuge of failed debaters, an ad hominem attack; those scientists must be shills for a multinational violator of Mother Earth; as Gore says in TAOR, Bush “has preferred a self-interested and deeply flawed analysis financed by the largest oil company on the planet, ExxonMobil” (p. 200).

More important than the earth’s apparent—and non-controversial--warming trend are the prescriptions offered to fix the problem. Many courses of action have been proposed, from doing nothing because the whole thing is a hoax, to doing something in fifty years, to spending money on adaptation (building seawalls if the sea levels rise rather than trying to stop the sea from rising.) Al Gore’s proposal is on the extreme end: the “climate crisis…demands immediate action to sharply reduce carbon dioxide emissions worldwide in order to turn down the world’s thermostat and avert catastrophe.” A letter to the UN IPCC signed by 100 scientists (part of the above report) calls this approach “a tragic misallocation of resources that would be better spent on humanity's real and pressing problems." But for Al Gore, it is the only possible approach that moral people can choose. The situation “demands” it. Again, he is not willing to debate the issue; anyone who disagrees with him is not just wrong but evil.

Gore’s primary opponent in the assault on his reason is, of course, George Bush, whose reaction to the “carbon crisis,” Gore claims, exhibits many “pathologies,” including “the appeal of a ‘crusade.’” Strange choice of words for the crusading high priest of the church of global warming.

Gore sums everything up with a bizarre walk into the land of metaphor:
Connect those who ignored the warnings about Katrina and then bungled the aftermath with those who ignored the warnings not to invade Iraq and then bungled the aftermath, and the line makes a small circle. In the middle of that circle is President George W. Bush. We were warned of an imminent attack by al-Qaeda; we didn’t respond. We were warned the levees would break in New Orleans; we didn’t respond. Now, the scientific community is warning us of the worst catastrophe in the history of human civilization.

At first glance, there’s a certain logic to his argument. The sentence structure creates parallels between the ignored warnings and bungled aftermaths. But remember: Al Gore is demanding that we create an enormous new global bureaucracy with the power to radically reorganize the multi-trillion dollar global energy market—and that we do it immediately. The arguments he brings in to buttress this drastic plan involve connecting a line to make a small circle around George Bush?

If you accept that the Presidential briefing about al-Qaeda gave specific enough information to prevent 9/11; and that George W. Bush was responsible for the levees breaking in New Orleans, (which I don't) then Gore makes a plausible case for George Bush’s ineptitude (and why he, Al Gore, would have been a superior president.) But these events are completely irrelevant to Gore’s case for drastic immediate response to curb CO2 emissions. He could bring up any policy disagreement with the President. What about tax cuts? We were warned by experts that cutting taxes would lead the country to financial ruin, but George Bush didn’t listen to the voice of reason. Aside from the minor point that tax cuts led to economic growth, isn't this just like Bush's lack of response to global warming? No, it's not just like it at all.

Al Gore is dangerous enough writing books that some people take seriously. Thank God he hasn't had the power of the Presidency behind his messianic schemes.