In a Republican candidate debate that punished viewers with its length and adolescent ferocity last night, CNN insisted on narrowly focusing on foreign-policy and national-security issues. That was interpreted to include immigration policy, which took up a whole segment of the debate and produced memorable clashes between senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. But there was nary a question about the agreement reached over the weekend by 195 countries, led by the United States, concerning global climate change, regarded by more than a few people as the preeminent challenge to the world and the stability of international relations for this and future generations.
The Paris conference did come up once, early in the debate, when John Kasich — you know, the most “moderate” candidate in the field — expressed amazement that the negotiators did not stop what they were doing and instead focus on “destroying ISIS.” I guess if Kasich can be an instant expert on terrorism, why not climate-change negotiators?
It’s likely the subject did not come up again because the candidates don’t consider climate change (to the variable extent they even recognize it as real) a national-security threat, and/or because they agree on killing implementation of the Paris agreement if any of them are elected president. Presumably that would happen the same day a GOP president would rescind all of Obama’s environmental regulations, which are, of course, strangling the U.S. economy.
But if ideology and Obama hatred are the explanation for the candidates’ indifference or hostility to this global agreement, what’s CNN’s excuse? (I’d excuse Hugh Hewitt from this question, since he was on the panel as an explicit concession to the conservative movement and the GOP, via debate co-sponsor the Salem Media Group.) Aren’t the moderators supposed to be asking questions the candidates don’t necessarily ask each other? In this case, it could well be that the external examiners of the Republican field went completely native. I hope they enjoyed the change in climate from the world the rest of us inhabit.