Sarah Palin's Cap-and-Trade Takedown

I usually don't resort to pile-ons, but erstwhile Atlantic Business blogger Conor Clarke, who's serving up his thoughts at the Daily Dish, has a fun, smart and necessary take down of Sarah Palin's splendidly strange cap-and-trade oped in the Washington Post today. Clarke does a smashing job with the heavy fact-lifting, but in the interests of summing up a cascade of wrongness in a single fact, consider this: Palin wrote a 700-word takedown of cap-and-trade that did not include the words pollution, emissions, carbon, or global warming.

Let's think about this for a second.

The point of cap-and-trade is to cap carbon emissions to mitigate pollution. There, that wasn't so hard. Yes, this will raise the price of energy for many Americans. That increase won't be as regressive as she suggests, but it won't be perfectly progressive either. And the overall impact of the cap-and-trade bill on worldwide global warming efforts -- whether it will encourage countries to join the fight or have no bandwagon effect at all -- is also in dispute. But if you're going to debate the policy, debate the policy. There are plenty of grounds to do so!

But this is not the stuff that national comebacks are made of. It's like writing a definitive oped about health care reform that does not include the words spending, costs, coverage, or medicine. Or like a high school student writing a paper about Catcher in the Rye that does not include the words Holden, Salinger, or Catcher in the Rye. At some point, negligence begins to look like you're deliberately avoiding the issue. And this is exactly what Americans mean when they say they're tired of politicians not having a real debate.