Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who turned 74 last December, probably can’t remember what he had for breakfast, much less the last time he pulled an all-nighter. On Monday night, he and 28 of his fellow Democrats along with two left-leaning Independents did just that.
The group staged an all-night “talkathon,” and the subject was climate change. The Christian Science Monitor notes that it was like a pajama party, “minus the pajamas, and definitely minus some of their colleagues.”
“Climate change is a mixed bag” for Democrats, says Jennifer Duffy, who tracks Senate races for the Cook Political Report. “While it certainly motivates parts of the Democratic base, it also is a big negative for them with other voters.”
It all depends on the state, she explains.
No-shows included Mark Begich of Alaska, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, and Mark Pryor of Arkansas. All of them already face highly competitive races in November due to their support of the unpopular Affordable Care Act. The last thing any of these vulnerable Dems need is another political albatross about their necks.
According to a Pew poll from January, climate change ranks low as a political issue among voters, with 42% of Democrats and 27% of independents citing it as a high priority. As a global threat, climate change ranks behind North Korea’s nuclear program, Islamic extremism, international financial stability, and China’s power and influence.
If all of that wasn’t enough to persuade these senators to stay home, flak from the opposition party was likely a factor. CSM notes that the Alaska chapter of Americans for Prosperity is spending more than $400,000 on advertising that hits Begich for being “on record supporting a carbon tax.”
Still another problem for climate change affirmers is the job-killing aspect of campaigns such as the Obama administration’s efforts to restrict greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who hails from Kentucky — coal country — has the backing of U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has run television ads highlighting the employment costs of the new carbon emissions rules by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
On the Senate floor on Monday McConnell declared, “We’ve got a depression in the coal fields of Kentucky created by this administration.”
In an interview with the Cincinnati Enquirer last Friday, he said:
For everybody who thinks it’s warming, I can find somebody who thinks it isn’t. Even if you conceded the point, which I don’t concede, but if you conceded the point, it isn’t going to be addressed by one country. So the idea is, we tie our own hands behind our back and others don’t. I think it’s beyond foolish and real people are being hurt by this.
P.S. We will now sit in the corner with our hands folded for five minutes as punishment for the dig against old people in the opening sentence.