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Rahm Emanuel Replays Scene from “Yes, Prime Minister” while Chicago Burns

August 10, 2017

In his well-received speech on Wednesday at a rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, President Donald Trump once again commented on social, economic, and political crises taking place in Chicago, asking “What’s wrong with Chicago?”

In his well-received speech on Wednesday at a rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, President Donald Trump once again commented on social, economic, and political crises taking place in Chicago, asking “What’s wrong with Chicago?”

As if on cue, Chicago’s embattled Mayor Rahm Emanuel issued a news release providing the answer: global warming – not crime, not job losses, not failing schools, not deteriorating race relations, and not the city’s impending bankruptcy – is the issue he plans to focus his attention on for the rest of the year.

According to the news release, “Chicago will partner with the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy and all of its partner city networks to host a climate summit for North American cities in the late fall. ‘Now, more than ever, cities are leading on bold and innovative initiatives that not only reduce our carbon footprint but also help develop a 21st century economy,’ said Mayor Emanuel. ‘By partnering with the Global Covenant of Mayors and other city networks, we are ready to show the world that we will not wait on others to forge our destiny to more sustainable and more productive cities.’”

On its face, the Mayor’s pompous proclamation is ridiculous. Some readers are old enough to remember that Richard Nixon’s reelection campaign theme was “now more than ever.” Months later, he resigned. Perhaps Emanuel is studying up on Nixon. Maybe he plans to reprise another Nixon classic, “I am not a crook,” when he faces a bankruptcy judge.

Emanuel’s posturing recalls the hilarious skit from the stage version (not the TV version, unfortunately) of “Yes, Prime Minister,” the British comedy about a hapless politician hoping to divert public attention from his terrible record in office by declaring himself suddenly committed to the survival of the entire world by boldly embracing measures to stop global warming.

Surely the mayor’s own chief advisors, like those of the fictional prime minister, know there is no scientific basis for worrying about the impact of global warming (or cooling, or “climate change”) in the coming century. Estimates of “climate sensitivity” (the impact on global average surface temperature of a doubling of the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere) have been heading steadily downward since the year 2000, and the emission reductions promised under the Paris Accord would have a barely perceivable effect on temperatures a century from now.

But of course that is irrelevant and perhaps all the better for a calculating pol like Emanuel, since promising the moon while doing nothing produces no harms to him, just good press.

Part of what makes Mayor Emanuel’s claims humorous is the fact that Chicago’s past efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions represent the bankruptcy of the liberal playbook on the issue. A story by Todd Myer run last week in National Review reports, “As the city’s own report admits, emissions are likely to increase due to the continuing economic recovery. The only significant reductions during the last two decades came as a result of the economic downturn, not public policy. Previous laundry lists of ‘green’ policies haven’t delivered meaningful results and the new ones are likely to see similar failures.”

The new emission reduction goal Emanuel committed to, again according to Myer, is actually less strict than his previously announced goal, but then, who is keeping score? The entire point and purpose of politicians playing the global warming card is being able to declare absolute devotion to saving the world from a deadly threat and to promise impossible reductions in emissions extending far into the future without any intention of making reductions at all. The media, thanks to a combination of stupidity and complicity, praise the Great Leader and don’t ask questions.

Emanuel’s news release brags about the support he is receiving in his quest to save the world from two of the city’s largest foundations, the Joyce Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Both have pumped hundreds of millions of dollars into the global warming scare. MacArthur even “wrote the book” for global warming activists telling them to demonize and exclude from any discussions scientists and experts who don’t agree with the alarmists’ dogma. The polarization of public opinion along partisan lines and the increasingly anti-science tone of the left’s position on global warming data to that awful book and the 1999 conference that spawned it… a conference the MacArthur Foundation organized.

One can laugh at a failed mayor on his way out of public office, and at out-of-touch liberal foundation leaders who believe the very misinformation they paid to manufacture. But truly this is a sad time for a city that still has a lot going for it. Chicago faces enormous problems, but its civic, political, and even business leaders have their heads so deep in the thick wet sand of progressive mythology that it is unlikely they will act in time to save it.

The city burns while its leaders pledge allegiance to a progressive cause that is past its expiration date.

Author
Joseph Bast is the CEO of The Heartland Institute, a 33-year-old national nonprofit research center located in Arlington Heights, Illinois.
jbast@heartland.org @JosephLBast