In his Friday column for the New York Times, Paul Krugman takes on newly minted climate scientist Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and compares Republican delusions about climate change to the party’s paranoid — and equally dead wrong — fantasies about inflation.
Whereas the right is currently working overtime to ignore the overwhelming body of evidence that supports climate change and its devastating consequences, they are also fighting to scare up evidence to support still-unsubstantiated claims that actions taken to boost our dragging economy during the peak of the financial crisis would result in runaway inflation.
“Why the bad behavior?” Krugman asks. No one likes admitting when they’re wrong, but when it comes to the modern GOP, the problem goes much deeper:
But hard as it is to admit one’s own errors, it’s much harder to admit that your entire political movement got it badly wrong. Inflation phobia has always been closely bound up with right-wing politics; to admit that this phobia was misguided would have meant conceding that one whole side of the political divide was fundamentally off base about how the economy works. So most of the inflationistas have responded to the failure of their prediction by becoming more, not less, extreme in their dogma, which will make it even harder for them ever to admit that they, and the political movement they serve, have been wrong all along.
The same kind of thing is clearly happening on the issue of global warming. There are, obviously, some fundamental factors underlying G.O.P. climate skepticism: The influence of powerful vested interests (including, though by no means limited to, the Koch brothers), plus the party’s hostility to any argument for government intervention. But there is clearly also some kind of cumulative process at work. As the evidence for a changing climate keeps accumulating, the Republican Party’s commitment to denial just gets stronger.
In fact, having a sensible and reality-based position on the economy or climate science seems to be a professional liability for Republicans nowadays:
Think of it this way: Once upon a time it was possible to take climate change seriously while remaining a Republican in good standing. Today, listening to climate scientists gets you excommunicated — hence Mr. Rubio’s statement, which was effectively a partisan pledge of allegiance.
And truly crazy positions are becoming the norm. A decade ago, only the G.O.P.’s extremist fringe asserted that global warming was a hoax concocted by a vast global conspiracy of scientists (although even then that fringe included some powerful politicians). Today, such conspiracy theorizing is mainstream within the party, and rapidly becoming mandatory; witch hunts against scientists reporting evidence of warming have become standard operating procedure, and skepticism about climate science is turning into hostility toward science in general.