Friday, December 24, 2010

This Is How It's Done

Every once in a while I come upon an opinion piece which tackles an issue without trying to be nice and which uses the right language and rhetoric to frame and discuss the issue. This one by Michael Brune (executive director of the Sierra Club) falls into this category of superlative columns.

...for a feel-good story, it's hard to top what's happened since: Federal investment helped General Motors get back on its feet and return to profitability, and GM has come out with a game-changing new car, the plug-in hybrid electric Chevy Volt. Motor Trend magazine named the Volt its 2011 Car of the Year. GM is investing $163 million in three plants (including one in hard-hit Flint, Mich.,) to help produce the car and is hiring 1,000 engineers to continue work on the Volt and develop other electric vehicles that will cut America's dependence on oil.

Looks like a win-win-win situation, right? Well, some people didn't think so and Mr. Brune nails the Scrooges in a strategic spot:

Conservative columnist George Will for one: He sees it as an example of "meretricious accounting and deceptive marketing … foist[ing] state capitalism on an appalled country."

Radio host Rush Limbaugh derides the Volt as " Obama's new car," and labels it part of the electric car industry's "century-long history of failure."

And it's not just the loony pundits that decried one potential success story for the United States. Whether the subject is electric cars, or windmill and solar energy generation, a lot of Republicans feel government assistance for clean technology is just a boondoggle, a waste of precious tax dollars, and (most importantly) tampering with the sacred free market, dominated, of course, by the huge oil companies, sponsors and owners of the Republican Party.

It wasn't so long ago that innovation and industrial know-how were a source of bipartisan pride, an all-American value. Then President Obama made clean-energy jobs and technology centerpieces of his new administration, and suddenly a swath of the Republican Party concluded that saving energy and supporting the growth of green industries were indications of incipient socialism.

Meanwhile, of course, other nations, including China, are investing heavily in clean technology because they realize not only is that necessary to keep the world from choking to death but also that the days of cheap and accessible oil are gone.

Here is where Mr. Brune pulls out all the stops in framing the issue the way the Democrats should but haven't:

Replacing dirty energy sources with solar and wind will rebuild America's manufacturing base and improve our economic competitiveness. Clean energy will cut air and water pollution, and help us to stabilize our climate. Energy independence is both patriotic and principled, and should be bipartisan once again. I have greater faith than ever in America's ability to forge a clean-energy future — and more cause than ever to wonder what Limbaugh is smoking in that cigar of his.

Why, yes. Yes, I think that gets it.

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