The winding down of the dark age of W feels like something like a long night’s journey into day. (Apologies to Eugene O’Neill.) Granted, Republicans are doing everything they can on their way out to make sure the light at the end of the tunnel is indeed a train. (More on that later.) But the world’s response to the incoming Obama administration is a nice reminder of what it’s like to live in a world where people are actually glad to see us when we show up.
As John Kerry put it when he dropped by the United Nations’ climate conference.
“President Obama will be like night and day compared to President Bush,” Mr. Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, said at a news conference, adding, “Congress and the president-elect are committed to movement on mandatory goals as rapidly as possible.”
…Despite elation at the new United States presence, there was widespread concern among delegates that developed nations would be less willing to make the financial investments in climate change at a time of global recession. In opening the two-day meeting of environment ministers on Thursday morning, the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, said there should be “no backsliding on our commitments.”
When was the last time people were “elated” to see us in the past eight years?
It will be different, as least to have an administration more interested in knowledge than belief, when it comes to determining policy, and will listen to scientist who are pretty much in agreement that climate change is “unequivocal” and human-caused, especially given the potential impact on security, public welfare, and global stability.
It will be even more different, and much nicer, to have a president who doesn’t treat the whole subject like a big joke.
It was his final summit with the Group of 8, the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia as well as the United States. President Bush, the most senior member of the group, was attending his eighth summit, and for years he withstood pressure to take a firmer stand against global warming.
It was the topic on the minds of summit partners and demonstrators.
His final words to the likes of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy: “Goodbye from the world’s biggest polluter.”
That was the report from the British press, citing “senior sources” who said Bush made the private joke as he was about to leave Japan on Wednesday.
It stunned his partners, according to the Telegraph, which said:
He then punched the air while grinning widely, as the rest of those present including Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozy looked on in shock.
The Independent offered this analysis: “His remarks were taken as a two-fingered salute from the president from Texas who is wedded to the oil industry.” (Two-fingered? Yes, that’s the V-for-victory sign, but in Britain it means something else, too, when the palm is turned inward.)
A White House spokesman responded to our inquiry: “I don’t have anything on this for you.”
Yeah. “I don’t have anythign on this for you.” It’s a phrase that could sum up the whole adminstration and the Republicans in general.
At the very least, I can’t imagine Obama behaving that way.