Obama goes rogue in Cancun, putting U.S. interests at risk

Christopher Horner Senior Fellow, Competitive Enterprise Institute
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From the “Kyoto II” talks in Cancun, National Journal reports a surprising story, if one almost predictable, as well, given President Barack Obama’s current unraveling and fast-fading loyalty to campaign promises. Specifically, in “U.S. Tells the World It Will Pass Climate Bill,” we read that the Obama administration is seeking to forge an international “global warming” commitment on the premise that the administration will then coerce Congress into passing domestic legislation consistent with treaty promises made to China, Europe, et al.

Along the way, or so the argument goes, the Senate will ratify an agreement to ration Americans’ access to energy sources that work. In conclusion, these parties should take Team Obama at their word and agree to Kyoto II while there’s still an administration in town foolish enough to consider the prospect. Let the administration worry about the public and Congress (and, as necessary, minor constitutional impediments).

The desperation is palpable. Of course, as NJ’s Coral Davenport points out:

It’s a promise that the rest of the world has seen the United States make — and break — time and again. At the 1997 Kyoto summit, then-Vice President Al Gore made the same pledge — even as the Senate passed a resolution refusing to ratify the Kyoto treaty. At last year’s summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, President Obama declared that the United States would lead the way in forging a treaty to replace Kyoto, starting with action at home.

What I really don’t get is the conclusion that follows this recitation, “All sides agree this has put the United States in an extremely difficult position in these talks.”

No, it doesn’t. In fact, it ought to just be ignored. This would be made clear if at least one other side was represented in this chat. The side that says: Stick to the Constitution, and its prescribed order of affairs. It’s not complicated. Even if this approach reported by National Journal shows the administration inescapably and intentionally has it backward.

Things only get murky when you try and advance that for which there is no Article II “advice” to support it, or hope for gaining “consent.” Problems start when an administration seeks instead to engineer a circumstance pressuring the Senate to do what it is predisposed against doing — rather firmly, as has been the case for coming on 20 years. In fact we’ve seen this movie before. More on that momentarily.

It does seem almost pointless to concern ourselves with the absurdity that these other negotiators might give credence to the same thing they’ve been told, and had disproved, time and again. But an intervention does appear to be warranted — at least to remind them that there is one delegation with a responsibility to keep the U.S.’s constitution and interests in mind. And to remind the administration of its own promises.

Regarding the latter, for example, what happened to the rhetoric from throughout 2008 and 2009, with chief campaign adviser on energy Jason Grumet leading the charge, assuring the world that Team Obama learned from the Clinton administration’s mistake of agreeing to Kyoto first, despite there being quite obviously, then as now, no appetite among lawmakers for consummating the agreement?

The Cancun stunt will come at a cost. Let’s take a quick stroll down memory lane, along the way clearing out some of the inane clutter of media, green group and Democrat politician talking points.

Recall for a moment the endless and sometimes serious fallout (see: France, the UN and Iraq) from that false narrative of President George W. Bush’s supposed “refusal to sign” and also his “withdrawal from” the Kyoto Protocol, a metaphysically impossible combination that also managed to leave unmentioned that Bush couldn’t sign Kyoto — Clinton already had — and he couldn’t withdraw from it, because the Senate never ratified it (and never showed any interest in trying — not Sen. Clinton, Sen. Obama, or Sen. Biden — which was and remains their right).

All of this and the concomitant hysterical rhetoric and anti-Americanism it bred was falsely laid at Bush’s feet but all of it derived from Clinton’s negotiators, led by Al Gore in Kyoto, similarly going rogue. A unanimous Senate had instructed them not to politically commit the U.S. to something that they had no intention of committing to legally. The rest is (often misstated) history.

Remember how Bush’s supposed refusal — again, it was actually the obstinate Senate’s — to follow through on Clinton-Gore’s recklessness “squandered post-9/11 goodwill,” by adopting the Clinton-Gore position of not seeking the unavailable ratification of that rogue action, announced seven months before 9/11 (March 17, 2001)?

All of that ignorance and dishonesty was unleashed by the Clinton administration doing precisely what Obama is now doing. Politically committing the U.S. to something it will never agree to legally, for one man’s political desires and ideological fetish.

Desperate times lead to equal measures. But the administration’s new recklessness with the U.S.’s name is intolerable. No good can come of this.

U.S. delegations cannot be permitted to continue doing such harm to their country’s relations, simply to posture, while a few dream a pipe dream that they can roll our constitutional process. Congress must correct the record for the negotiations. Tell the world that it shouldn’t get fooled again by believing that we will get fooled this time.

Christopher C. Horner is a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.