Monday, December 11, 2006

Shifting blame

Mankind has had less effect on global warming than previously supposed, a U.N. report on climate change will say next year, according to the London Sunday Times.

The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says there can be little doubt that humans are responsible for warming the planet, but the organization has reduced its overall estimate of this effect by 25 percent.

In a final draft of its fourth assessment report, to be published in February, the panel reports that the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has accelerated in the past five years. It also predicts that temperatures will rise by up to 4.5 degrees Celsius during the next 100 years, bringing more frequent heat waves and storms.

The panel, however, has lowered predictions of how much sea levels will rise in comparison with its last report in 2001.

Climate-change skeptics are expected to seize on the revised figures as evidence that action to combat global warming is less urgent, the newspaper said.

Meanwhile, Sen. James M. Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican and the outgoing chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, announced release of a committee booklet, “A Skeptic’s Guide to Debunking Global Warming Alarmism. Hot & Cold Media Spin Cycle: A Challenge to Journalists Who Cover Global Warming.”

A small triumph

President Bush won his first skirmish with the Iraq Study Group,” Fred Barnes writes in the Weekly Standard.

James A. Baker III and Lee Hamilton, the ISG directors, insisted the president adopt all 79 of its recommendations for changing policy in Iraq. Bush balked, and for good reason. A sizable chunk of the ISG’s advice — its call, for instance, for a new diplomatic outreach to Syria and Iran — is unrealistic and wrongheaded. Within 24 hours of the report’s release, Hamilton conceded he and Baker had never expected full compliance by Bush,” Mr. Barnes said.

“It was, however, a small triumph. The president faces significant hurdles in his effort to finesse the ISG report and the get-out-of-Iraq-now Democrats. Bush’s plan is twofold. First, while praising the ISG report, he’s already begun rejecting parts he doesn’t like, while other parts he’ll probably just ignore. Second, to quell Democratic (and media) opposition, he’ll invoke the ISG’s plea for bipartisanship and its support for ‘success’ in Iraq.

“Bush would no doubt have preferred to dismiss the report flatly, perhaps even contemptuously. He came to Washington six years ago with a strong desire to thumb his nose at the mandarins of the Washington establishment. And the ISG is a perfect embodiment of that establishment, both in who’s on it and the type of advice it’s offering. But given his political weakness and the unpopularity of the war in Iraq, Bush doesn’t have the option of snubbing the ISG.

“Still, the private scorn among Bush aides for the ISG was hard to disguise. One administration official said a line in Eliot Cohen‘s analysis of the ISG report in the Wall Street Journal captured his view. ‘A fatuous process yields, necessarily, fatuous results,’ wrote Cohen, a military expert at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies.”

Snow’s reply

While outgoing Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld was being feted at the Pentagon on Friday, White House press secretary Tony Snow was addressing a gathering of the Conservative Women’s Network at the Heritage Foundation and was asked about Mr. Rumsfeld’s imminent departure.

Mr. Rumsfeld, pilloried by critics for what they consider a botched war plan in Iraq, was forced to resign the day after the Nov. 7 elections. He will leave office Dec. 18.

Given the sour mood of the electorate regarding the war, Mr. Snow was asked whether Republican House and Senate losses might have been lessened had Mr. Rumsfeld stepped aside six weeks before the election, rather than on Nov. 8.

“I doubt it,” Mr. Snow told the gathering of about 135 — most of them women — on hand for the event, a monthly luncheon put on by the Herndon-based Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute.

“I’m not sure it would have” made a difference, he said, adding that it was “fruitless” to speculate. He said the losses were probably more directly attributable to the large number of Republican incumbents with “ethical problems.”

Mr. Snow said that Mr. Rumsfeld “did a magnificent job as defense secretary” under difficult circumstances.

‘Macaca’ lesson

Jon Henke, the blogger who joined Sen. George Allen‘s re-election campaign in August, in the wake of the “macaca” incident, says it is important for candidates to recognize the importance of establishing a blog presence early in the campaign cycle.

Talking about, the video Web site that spread video of the Republican senator’s reference to a volunteer for his Virginia opponent, Mr. Henke said, “If the blogosphere represents the democratization of news, then YouTube is the democratization of video.”

In an interview at with Matt Lewis, Mr. Henke explained:

“Campaigns need to understand that a story is more powerful than a statistic, and a narrative more powerful than a story. Similarly, a picture is more powerful than a story and a video more powerful than a picture. The problem (and opportunity) for campaigns is not simply that they will be subjected to more scrutiny. That’s been true for a long time. The problem (and opportunity) is that people now have access to visual reinforcement of the statistics, stories and narratives.

“That’s why it’s so important to tell the stories and develop the narratives early. The ‘macaca’ incident was a big story because the left had spent many months trying to tell a story about George Allen, while the Allen campaign essentially ignored it.”

Another first

Waiting to start a press conference Friday, Senate Democrat leaders decided to playfully chide the one member who was late — Sen. Charles E. Schumer of New York, who is known for holding press conferences, perhaps more than any other member.

“The real news is for the first time in the history of Congress, Schumer’s late for a press conference,” incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, told a roomful of print reporters, who chortled at his joke.

One reporter continued the joke by suggesting Mr. Schumer’s absence may be a result of the lack of television cameras at the event — prompting more laughter from Democrats and reporters alike.

When Mr. Schumer arrived a few moments later, Mr. Reid repeated the playful antics and Mr. Schumer, giving only a wry smile, assured the print media that he cares just as much for them as he does the television cameras.

• Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or

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