Monday, February 15, 2010


Kevin Drum a couple of days ago, in response to a Bob Herbert column about China's push to develop green energy technology:

...lately become more receptive to the idea that, for better or worse, the only way to get Americans to take this stuff seriously is to kick it old school and start hauling out that old time Cold War evangelism. Frame green tech as a matter of vital economic and national security superiority over the Reds and quit worrying overmuch about whether that's really technically accurate. Just figure that it's close enough, it's language everyone understands, and it'll do a better job of motivating development than a couple hundred more PowerPoints about receding glaciers.

But that won't work. The wingers have a boilerplate answer on the subject of energy independence: "Drill, baby, drill!" The more "thoughtful" version of this is to call for "an all-of-the-above approach" to energy, which means, yeah, the green stuff, but as window dressing for ANWR drilling and more pumping of natural gas and more nuclear power -- basically, whatever is as satisfying as punching hippies. (Sarah Palin, of course, has used both of these catchphrases. And they're as substantive as the arguments from the right-center and right seem to get.)

And oddly, this seems to be the first clash-of-civilizations moment in which there isn't a vague sense of unease on the right or center-right about the possibility that our adversaries, however distasteful, might have a more successful, more disciplined approach to the cultural, economic, and/or techonological battle, and might therefore bury us. We certainly heard that about the Nazis in the 1930s, and there was some anxiety about the Reds during the Cold War -- that's how we got into the space race. A generation ago, we feared the Japanese were going to clean our clocks.

But, for some reason, there don't seem to be a similar sense about the Chinese, at least not to the right of Tom Friedman. No one thinks the American way makes us "weak" or "undisciplined" (those attributes are ascribed only to us evil Democrats and liberals). The right simply doesn't think China poses a threat, or, if there is a threat, it's one that can be cured simply, by overthrowing evil liberal subversion and deficit spending (which, of course, only liberals do).

So appeals to patriotism won't work. We're #1! Or we would be if Sarah Palin, or someone with a Palinesque energy policy, were president.

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