Roger L. Simon

Climategate: What do we do about Barbara Boxer?

Such is my personal dislike for the junior senator from my home state of California that I take little solace that the influential Rothenberg Political Report has downgraded Barbara Boxer’s chance of reelection from a “safe” seat to a “clear advantage for the incumbent.” Nothing less than humiliating defeat would be satisfying to me.

From whence my perhaps over-heated reaction to Boxer? Well, she represents to me all the most distasteful aspects of perpetually unexamined “liberalism” rolled into one angry, rigid, misguided persona. How angry is she? It’s not just her well-known disdain for Brigadier General Michael Walsh(the don’t-call-me-ma’am-I’m-a-Senator affair); it’s her abiding, self-satisified, arrogant dyspepsia. This is on display, if you’re interested, in the video aptly entitled “I’ve never seen anything like it” – in which she dresses down a Bush era EPA official.

Of course, it’s more than an unpleasant personality that makes me react so strongly to Boxer (we’re none of us perfect in that regard, right?). It’s also her uncanny ability to mix willful ignorance and guilt-free dishonesty. That combination was on display at Tuesday’s meeting of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which she chairs and at which Senator Inhofe made an interesting minority report. At that meeting, according to Pajamas Media’s own Charlie Martin, Boxer and the EPA’s Lisa Jackson “threw the IPCC under the bus,” ostensibly by denying they had been influenced by that UN organization, its officers like Rajendra Pachauri or other tarnished foreign sources (the East Anglia CRU) in their conclusions about climate and AGW. (Boxer: “In my opening statement, I didn’t quote one international scientist or IPCC report. … We are quoting the American scientific community here.”)

Boxer lied.

According to the perspicacious, “Barbara Boxer relied heavily on both the IPCC and Pachauri.” Here’s just one sample, but for the rest, go to climatequotes. They deserve your attention. Boxer on Jan. 30, 2008: “Dr. Pachauri, you have been a tremendous leader on this issue. I have spoken to you on several occasions to learn first hand about the recent IPCC reports that summarize the recent science of global warming.”

Enough of the lying for now. What about the ignorance? We’re used to politicians prevaricating but they’re even more dangerous when they are ignorant as well. Does Boxer have the background to understand climate science even if she wanted to? There is nothing in her vitae to demonstrate that. She has a B.A. from Brooklyn College in economics and that’s about it. For many years she has been a leading environmental advocate in the Congress, but as the stakes of “environmentalism” morphed and grew, the amount of scientific expertise necessary to separate legitimate concern from cant has increased exponentially. Politicians’ reliance on scientists has perforce also increased with the selection of those scientists all the more open to bias and distortion. As this occurs, it is particularly incumbent on politicians to seek the judgment of scientists on all sides of an issue, not just the side they want to believe or find expedient to believe. Few seem to do this. And Boxer is the poster girl of those who do not. She goes on and on as she was, talking to the same people and spouting the same conventional opinions as if they were fact. If there were ever a time for a change, this is it.

Now that I am at the end of this, I am not so sure I am as angry at Boxer as I thought I was (or am now, at any rate). Nor am I that disappointed in her because I have not had any hopes or expectations for her for quite some time. No, she is just the wrong person for our era. She stopped growing years ago and there’s nothing we can do about that. We have to move on.