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The left-wing Guardian newspaper said the president’s decision to withdraw from the global climate treaty signed by his Democratic predecessor represents “a blunt rebuff to European hopes” and has turned America into “the ultimate rogue state.” Britain’s Independent declared: “It is not even isolationism, it is in-your-face truculence.” The president of France called the decision “disturbing and unacceptable.” The US National Environmental Trust declared: “This is no way to conduct policy. It looks like amateur hour at the White House.”
The president being attacked is not Donald Trump. It is George W. Bush, who was chastised for his 2001 decision to withdraw the United States from the Kyoto treaty on global climate change signed by the Clinton administration.
Of course, the predicted apocalypse never happened. To the contrary, the Wall Street Journal reports that after Bush’s withdrawal the US “reduced emissions faster than much of Europe thanks to business innovation—namely, hydraulic fracturing that is replacing coal with natural gas.” It turns out that technology, not treaties, is the best way to curb emissions – and to do so without harming consumers by dramatically increasing the cost of electricity. In the years after Bush’s Kyoto withdrawal, electricity prices in the US were half of the European Union average (which went up by 55% from 2005 to 2013) and one-third of the price in Germany—where emissions, ironically, went up thanks to the abandonment of nuclear power.
No matter; the left-wing outrage machine savaged Bush anyway, just as it is savaging Trump today for his pending announcement of America’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement signed by Barack Obama.
Keep the pangs of outrage in perspective. We’ve seen this movie many times before. Republican president withdraws from cherished international agreement. Left goes into apoplexy. Rinse and repeat.
It’s like Groundhog Day.
The same thing happened when Bush withdrew the US signature from the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The Guardian declared it would “provoke anger from the international community, and provide further evidence for what many see as the Bush administration’s increasing unilateralism.” Judge Richard Goldstone, the chief prosecutor at The Hague war crimes tribunal on the former Yugoslavia called it “unprecedented” and “a very backwards step” that “smacks of pettiness” adding, “The US have really isolated themselves and are putting themselves into bed with the likes of China, the Yemen and other undemocratic countries.”
The same was true when Bush withdrew from the ABM Treaty barring ballistic missile defenses—which then-Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Joe Biden warned would lead to an arms race. Now, as North Korea gets closer to developing a missile that can reach the US—and the US tests a “kill vehicle” that successfully intercepted and destroyed a mock ICBM—most Americans are grateful for Bush’s decision.
Whenever the GOP kills fatally flawed treaties and agreements, the left howls. So the hysteria over Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris agreement is no surprise, and is not further evidence that he is unfit for office. It is evidence that he made the right decision. If Trump is being attacked hysterically for doing something conservative (rather than for his tweets) it’s a good day for conservatives.
And, by the way, there is a lesson here for the hyperventilating left, which is paying a price for the Democrats’ unrelenting strategy of “resistance” to Trump. Trump is not an ideologue. He could have gone either way on the Paris agreement. And there were voices in the administration urging him not to withdraw from the accord. One argument that might have gotten Trump’s attention? “Mr. President, this will really alienate key Democratic senators we need to pass tax reform, healthcare reform and other key parts of your legislative agenda.” But they could not use that argument, because Democrats have made clear they have no intention of cooperating with Trump on virtually anything. As a result, their climate allies in the White House had no leverage.
So score a win today for conservatives, and a defeat for the “resistance.” Let them sputter with anger at Trump’s decision. The more venom the better. In energy states where Trump won in 2016 like North Dakota (Sen. Heidi Heitkamp), West Virginia (Sen. Joe Manchin) and Indiana (Sen. Joe Donnelly), where Democrats are up in 2018, what they hear is: Trump is on our side.
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