Rush Says to Romney on Climate: "Bye Bye Nomination"

By The Intersection | June 8, 2011 8:42 pm

By Jon Winsor

Last week, we reported on Mitt Romney taking a “round-Earth position on climate change.” Not surprisingly, for certain people, Romney had done the unthinkable:

(Of course, Rush has opposed nominees who’ve won the nomination before–for instance, John McCain last year.)

Later, Romney’s questioner actually called in to Limbaugh’s show, and did an admirable job:

CALLER: …First of all, I wanted to specify the difference between policy and science… And I specifically quoted from a 2010 National Academy of Sciences report, and two quotes here. The first is, they concluded — and, by the way, the National Academy of Sciences, as you know, is considered the Supreme Court of science in this country. It was founded in 1863 by Abraham Lincoln, and it’s charged with giving the Congress unbiased scientific information. Now, their conclusion was, quote, “A strong, credible body of scientific evidence shows that climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for a broad range of human and natural systems.”

RUSH: Then they’ve lost all credibility. It’s a bogus claim.

CALLER: Let me go on. They then went on to say, “Some scientific conclusions or theories have been so thoroughly examined and tested and supported by so many independent observations and results, that their likelihood of subsequently being found wrong is vanishingly small. This is the case for the conclusions that the Earth system is warming and that much of this warming is very likely due to human activities. And then I asked my question, so that’s the context of the question. Your response was that there was evidence even in the last year that established this whole premise of manmade global warming is a hoax.

RUSH: Right.

CALLER: I don’t know where you’re getting the hoax from, sir. I mean I’m looking at —

RUSH: It’s called the University of East Anglia in England and the Hadley Climate Center where they basically made it all up, pure and simple. It’s a hoax. There’s nothing true about it.

END TRANSCRIPT

That shouldn’t have been the end of the conversation. Every official inquiry that has been made into “Climategate” has exonerated the participants. But it’s Limbaugh’s mike, right? He can go to a commercial and end the conversation whenever he likes.

After the 2008 election, pollster Nate Silver reflected on a heated on-air conversation he had with a radio talk show host over what should have been a simple matter:

Almost uniquely to radio, most of the audience is not even paying attention to you, because most people listen to radio when they’re in the process of doing something else. (If they weren’t doing something else, they’d be watching TV). They are driving, mowing the lawn, washing the dishes — and you have to work really hard to sustain their attention. Hence what [David Foster] Wallace refers to as the importance of “stimulating” the listener, an art that Ziegler has mastered. Invariably, the times when Ziegler became really, really angry with me during the interview was when I was not permitting him to be stimulating, but instead asking him specific, banal questions that required specific, banal answers. Those questions would have made for terrible radio! And Ziegler had no idea how to answer them.

Rush Limbaugh is what he says he is, an entertainer. But he’s an entertainer that a lot of people listen to, especially people who go to Republican presidential primaries and vote—-for or against people like Mitt Romney. So the question becomes, basically, should people vote based on what Rush tells them as he tries to fill the airwaves with exciting content? Or, as the caller points out, should things be based on what dozens of worldwide scientific organizations have concluded, with no dissenters?

On the subject of entertainers as policymakers, David Frum put things in a thought-provoking way in an interview last year (he was talking about Fox, but I think what he was saying still applies here):

Republicans originally thought that Fox worked for us and now we’re discovering we work for Fox. And this balance here has been completely reversed. The thing that sustains a strong Fox network is the thing that undermines a strong Republican party.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Uncategorized

Comments (24)

  1. The link to the page on rushlimbaugh.com has a broken HREF attribute (the URL needs a colon character added after the initial ‘http’).

  2. Chris Mooney
  3. Jackie

    Very good post. I would be more likely to vote for someone who is aware of the dangers. And, kudos to the caller.

  4. renewable guy

    Part I suppose is that it is not entertaining to talk the details of science. The other part is that the caller was starting to make a strong case. And Rush knows so little he was out of rebuttals.

  5. Chris Mooney

    I think the concept of “seizing and freezing” is very relevant here. Rush has seized on East Anglia as a refutation of human caused global warming, and that’s good enough for him. All else will be dismissed. Here’s one account…

    http://www.puki.org/socialpsyc/kruglanski.html

  6. John

    I am a self-confessed social and fiscal conservative but I align myself with Libertarians more than Republicans. What Rush thinks about Romney means nothing to me because I am capable of making up my own mind after having done research. I think the Romney is the most viable candidate for the Republican party and has made some progress compared to others I have heard but in my opinion it’s not enough. Just like the last election cycle there are no great candidates so it feels like my vote is wasted on two people that ought not be in office.

    The problem that I have though is reading politically oriented posts on sites like this one. I do not like knowing that there are biases applied to my science news and it has stopped me from reading other sites when their political views become the primary focus. To be fair I feel the same way about “news” sites inflicting their views on science as well and I don’t care to hear what Rush thinks about science.

    Is it not possible to separate science and politics? Science and religion? Why have they become some inextricably linked?

    BTW – It has not escaped my notice that I wrote about politics while complaining about politics on this site.

  7. The caller totally nailed Rush, but his flock won’t notice it. Today he interviewed Santorum, and Climate Desperate noted it, that Santorum said this:

    “I believe the earth gets warmer, and I also believe the earth gets cooler, and I think history points out that it does that and that the idea that man through the production of CO2 which is a trace gas in the atmosphere and the manmade part of that trace gas is itself a trace gas is somehow responsible for climate change is, I think, just patently absurd when you consider all of the other factors, El Nino, La Nina, sunspots, you know, moisture in the air. There’s a variety of factors that contribute to the earth warming and cooling, and to me this is an opportunity for the left to create — it’s a beautifully concocted scheme because they know that the earth is gonna cool and warm. It’s been on a warming trend so they said, “Oh, let’s take advantage of that and say that we need the government to come in and regulate your life some more because it’s getting warmer,” just like they did in the seventies when it was getting cool, they needed the government to come in and regulate your life because it’s getting cooler. It’s just an excuse for more government control of your life, and I’ve never been for any scheme or even accepted the junk science behind the whole narrative.”

    There was just so much profanity that I was tempted to unleash when I read that. But I truly felt sorry for the listeners that accepted what Santorum said so diseloquently without questioning it. Maybe Romney did kiss the nomination good-bye with what he said about climate; should a man with an actual intellect be concerned that a political party lacking one won’t nominate him?

    If Rush has become the arbiter of scientific verisimilitude for the GOP, then the hard-right GOP is just confirming the anti-scientific depths they are descending to (and are we surprised by that? No). Rush’s delight in Santorum’s anti-scientific position is effectively emetic.

  8. Vote Green if you want real action on global warming. (And on other things.)

  9. Peter Ozzie Jones

    Hi Chris
    is it possible to have that caller also chat with Michael Shermer?
    In your POI chat with Michael I thought he had a sneaky way to avoid being named a climate-change denier by saying he accepted the science and the human involvement yet deny that there was any real immediate consequence?

  10. JMW

    @6. John, as another person named John, allow me to respond where Chris might not. I’m not a professional scientist, but I do practice the scientific mode of thought to the extent that I’m able.

    And I think that, if you were to ask Chris, he would say that he would support the Republican party over the Democrats if the situation were reversed – with the Democrats denying anthropogenic climate change and the Republicans supporting it (or, at least, not denying it so as not to alienate any potential support).

  11. Chris Mooney

    Thanks JMW. This all started with us praising Romney here for accepting the science. And he’s a Republican. So I don’t take the complaint very seriously.

  12. TaVo

    This is what I can’t stand about any politician or political analyst, esp people like Rush. They can’t have a conversation and talk about things, they have to be stubborn and childish. Its like watching a baby making a face and moving its head away from a spoon because they don’t like peas. They refuse to try anything. I would just like to know why he so fervently believes what he does about AGW? And I don’t want some BS answer about a hoax or conspiracy, because if that’s all there is in his logic, then he is actually stupid and not just pretending to be.
    It physically sickens me that people like him actually have control over other’s thoughts. Why can’t the republicans just figure out that even if AGW isn’t real, we should still take care of the planet because its all we really have. Esp with everybody cutting funding to NASA, (thanks btw to those politicians, already don’t have the chance to submit for a job even before I’m finished with my degree) we don’t even have a way to look for a hospitable planet once we screw this one.
    Everybody needs to get over their huge egos and realize we have the potential to do something great.

  13. S Billingsley

    I actually heard the interaction as it happened. Rush is right. The University of East Anglia in England and the Hadley Climate Center cooked the books. They said so themselves. To each other. In emails that anyone can read at almost anytime for free.

    The difference between the caller and Rush is simple. The caller believes and has faith in The National Academy of Sciences. I call that blind faith.

    Like so many in their respective fields of expertise, I don’t fully agree with those that represent my field on the national and international levels. I used to but they kept taking sides for political and economic gain. Their own. While their positions were created for good, ultimately they pay for themselves by bringing in money from government sources to fix the problems pointed out by the representatives.

    Global Warming now has a new name, “Climate Change.” Why?

    Why?

    Why did the Chicago Climate Exchange suddenly get its plug pulled last October? Why did the New York Times wait until the following January to report on it? Why did they leave Al Gore out of the story when he was one of the biggest losers as he was going to make billions upon billions?

    What?

    Did you think Al Gore was in it only to save the planet?

    Right wing conspiracy?

    The truth was coming out?

    Why?

  14. Joe

    John, very well put… Science doesn’t address the question: if we are on a warming trend how do we go about doing something in the most responsible manner… it especially doesn’t answer who is best to achieving that end… that’s generally a topic for the editorials and the partisan rags… I didn’t think this was one of them.

  15. TaVo

    Like I said. Conspiracies and egos. Can’t Americans just get over themselves.

  16. Terry Emberson

    @6. John Says:

    Is it not possible to separate science and politics? Science and religion? Why have they become some inextricably linked?

    As someone who shares your political ideology, I just wanted to let you know the answer to the above questions are “No. No. And because politics is how the sociologically required pecking order is achieved.” Politics is an inextricable part of all human interactions, from how offices run to how countries run. It is all about how to establish priorities and authorities. The problem is when politics leads to motivated reasoning, to borrow Chris’s term, such as when conservatives ignore AGW and evolution evidence or when liberals ignore economics and AGW evidence to support their own arguments. Chris expresses a liberal political opinion on many things and expresses his own motivated reasoning.

    As a libertarianish person I think I need to listen to his arguments because pluralism is good and I need to understand how liberals think. Particularly, the counter arguments against Michael Shermer have been really enlightening because they show an argument against my own perspective. I’m not swayed by an argument that it is better to be scared into action than cautious about overreaction, but I know understand his political position on a scientific issue, including one that is shared by many people.

    @13. S Billingsley Says:

    I actually heard the interaction as it happened. Rush is right.

    No more terrifying words have been uttered, ever.

    The University of East Anglia in England and the Hadley Climate Center cooked the books. They said so themselves. To each other. In emails that anyone can read at almost anytime for free.

    Yes, and in reading them, they didn’t do anything you said. If you read them objectively, you’d find that the quotes that were taken out of context were regarding specific project reports and not the raw data that has been used for the actual models. The only thing I read that was actually problematic was in figuring out how to avoid a freedom of information request. This does not invalidate the entire model any more than the brontosaurus hoax invalidates paleontology.

    The difference between the caller and Rush is simple. The caller believes and has faith in The National Academy of Sciences. I call that blind faith.

    More accurately, the caller trusts in the national Academy of Sciences (which one should not do) and Rush knows that he can deny reality and get lots of people to believe because they are too lazy to check the data, and learn how to understand the data, themselves.

    Like so many in their respective fields of expertise, I don’t fully agree with those that represent my field on the national and international levels. I used to but they kept taking sides for political and economic gain. Their own. While their positions were created for good, ultimately they pay for themselves by bringing in money from government sources to fix the problems pointed out by the representatives.

    Corruption is everywhere, including in the NAS, so that argument is valid. No one should trust in the NAS or any authority. Look at the facts, not the people spewing and distorting the facts.

    Global Warming now has a new name, “Climate Change.” Why?

    Why?

    Why did the Chicago Climate Exchange suddenly get its plug pulled last October? Why did the New York Times wait until the following January to report on it? Why did they leave Al Gore out of the story when he was one of the biggest losers as he was going to make billions upon billions?

    What?

    Did you think Al Gore was in it only to save the planet?

    Right wing conspiracy?

    The truth was coming out?

    Why?

    Um… I got nothing. I doubt that you’d be interested in reading what I do have.

    On that note.
    /rant AGW is real! Deal with it. Live in reality. And then figure out where it should go in your priority chain. For me, it’s really low because I prefer not to allow humans to try to game complex systems; they usually screw them up. If you don’t believe me, look at the genetic diversity of old growth forests and that of new growth forests. Or look at how well planned economies have done in the world. China’s mixed economy is doing well now, but look at the actual per capita gains of the Chinese people and it’ll be clear that the gains aren’t working for the people despite China’s leftist outlook. On the right, look at neoliberal “Washington Consensus” efforts to create free markets in developing economies. You can’t plan a free market, its an oxymoron.

    In all of these cases, the ability to plan a complex, robust, self-sustaining system has failed. I just don’t want to put humans in control of the market or the environment because we’ll screw them both up. /unrant.

  17. Johan Fruh

    Hello S Billingsley ,
    quote:
    “Rush is right. The University of East Anglia in England and the Hadley Climate Center cooked the books. They said so themselves. To each other. In emails that anyone can read at almost anytime for free.”

    Could you please post a link, or at least a quotation of these emails?

    So far, I’ve been trying to understand how and why people could be so certain that all this climate changing story is a hoax… other then republican propaganda and the fright of the current world changing.
    After all, this greenhouse effect has been in science school books since I was 10…. and I don’t remember any call of hoax or anything of the sort until recent years.
    This attack on climate science has started only since… politcal implications started appearing I guess?

    But perhaps here you can finally give me a reason to believe that it isn’t only politics! And that there are truly good reasons to be so sceptic about climate science.
    So please, S Billingsley, could you provide me with this much promising proof that you’ve talked of, shedding light on why all this would be a hoax?

    I would very much appreciate it.

  18. Michael Hillinger

    As the caller, I’d like to thank Chris Mooney for bringing attention to my “discussion” with Rush. I must admit I was surprised at his response, I had multiple sources ready for a protracted discussion with the usual denier point. His abrupt ending took me completely by surprise.

    I am also a little surprised at the outcry to my question to Romney. As he noted when he answered me, he has said the same thing in his book. He also hedged enough in his answer that he could recommend a hydrocarbon strategy as a solution.

    My goal with Romney, and all of the candidates is to ask them serious questions about the issue and then post their responses at my facebook page “Climate change in the Presidential Primaries” https://www.facebook.com/pages/Climate-Change-in-the-Presidential-Primaries/157441864321324

    Living (and voting) in NH, I have a unique opportunity to interact with the candidates. My hope is that we can continue the discussion with the candidates over the course of the NH primary.

  19. Chris Mooney

    Good for you for getting this on the map Michael. This is Jon Winsor’s post, though. Keep up the awesome work.

  20. TTT

    I must admit I was surprised at his response, I had multiple sources ready for a protracted discussion with the usual denier point. His abrupt ending took me completely by surprise.

    I am unaware of any instances of Rush actually having an in-depth, point-for-point actual debate over any topic. He bulldozes over people and, if they seem to be raising good points, hangs up. A great example came on the occasion of Reagan’s 100th birthday, when a caller asked him why a self-described conservative would be so fond of a person who raised taxes, banned torture in any circumstance, considered himself a global citizen, and withdrew from Lebanon after terrorist attacks. Rush simply said that anybody who could possibly ask a question like that would never be able to understand his answer, and hung up.

    Scratch a bully, find a coward.

  21. Michael Hillinger

    “The difference between the caller and Rush is simple. The caller believes and has faith in The National Academy of Sciences. I call that blind faith. ”

    I would not call this blind faith. The NRC report was a good compendium of the current climate science. Similar summaries are available from the IPCC, NOAA or NASA etc. Those who subscribe to conspiracy theories in support of their denial are dealing in blind faith.

    I am willing to have a discussion with anyone based on the available data.

  22. Mike

    Why are Global Warming proponents are always willing to believe that a right-wing conspiracy is fighting against their cause, but they are never, ever willing to believe that a left-wing conspiracy is the support behind it.

    Just like Warmist accuse Deniers of only believing science that suits them, so does the left only believe in conspiracy theories that suit them.

  23. Nullius in Verba

    #17,

    “Could you please post a link, or at least a quotation of these emails?”

    The best place to start is with the Harry_read_me.txt file, which was part of the Climategate archive. (Here.) Its context is that a peer-reviewed climate database called CRU TS2.1 was published several years ago, graphs based on it are found in the IPCC reports, and the data forms the basis of one of the major temperature series. After the original authors left, another researcher at CRU, thought to be Ian ‘Harry’ Harris, was given the task of updating it and producing the next release (CRU TS3.0). This is his diary.

    I could give you a few pointers to particularly interesting bits (e.g. search for “I can make it up”.), but I’d be accused of quoting out of context. Read the context.

    (Note – sceptics have a lot of sympathy for Harry, having gone through many of the same struggles with other products of climate science. This is not a criticism of Harry’s honesty, but of software quality standards and care for data quality generally. I think this is the real reason they have been so unwilling to share openly.)

    The emails are more complicated to explain, because there’s a lot of background knowledge needed to fully understand them. They’re not so self-contained. But if you’re still interested after looking at ‘Harry’, I can give you some pointers for that, too.

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