White House

Outrage over Trump's climate deal decision is a 'Groundhog Day' rerun

Marc Thiessen

Editor's note: The following column is adapted from a post which originally appeared on AEIdeas.org, the blog of the American Enterprise Institute.

The left-wing Guardian newspaper said the president’s decision to withdraw from the global climate treaty signed by his Democratic predecessor represents “a blunt rebuff to European hopes” and has turned America into “the ultimate rogue state.”

Britain’s Independent declared: “It is not even isolationism, it is in-your-face truculence.” The president of France called the decision “disturbing and unacceptable.” The US National Environmental Trust declared: “This is no way to conduct policy. It looks like amateur hour at the White House.”

The president being attacked is not Donald Trump. It is George W. Bush, who was chastised for his 2001 decision to withdraw the United States from the Kyoto treaty on global climate change signed by the Clinton administration.

Of course, the predicted apocalypse never happened. To the contrary, the Wall Street Journal reports that after Bush’s withdrawal the U.S. “reduced emissions faster than much of Europe thanks to business innovation—namely, hydraulic fracturing that is replacing coal with natural gas.”

It turns out that technology, not treaties, is the best way to curb emissions – and to do so without harming consumers by dramatically increasing the cost of electricity.

In the years after Bush’s Kyoto withdrawal, electricity prices in the U.S. were half of the European Union average (which went up by 55% from 2005 to 2013) and one-third of the price in Germany—where emissions, ironically, went up thanks to the abandonment of nuclear power.

No matter; the left-wing outrage machine savaged Bush anyway, just it is savaging Trump today for his pending announcement of America’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement signed by Barack Obama.

Keep the pangs of outrage in perspective. We’ve seen this movie many times before. Republican president withdraws from cherished international agreement. Left goes into apoplexy. Rinse and repeat.

It’s like Groundhog Day.

The same thing happened when Bush withdrew the U.S. signature from the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The Guardian declared it would “provoke anger from the international community, and provide further evidence for what many see as the Bush administration’s increasing unilateralism.” Judge Richard Goldstone, the chief prosecutor at The Hague war crimes tribunal on the former Yugoslavia called it “unprecedented” and “a very backwards step” that “smacks of pettiness” adding, “The US have really isolated themselves and are putting themselves into bed with the likes of China, the Yemen and other undemocratic countries.”

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Marc Thiessen is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). Thiessen served as chief speechwriter to President George W. Bush and to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.