Obama and Climate Change: It's the Follow-Through That Matters

I hope the President’s speech will be followed up by a decision to make this challenge a centerpiece of his leadership during his remaining three and a half years in office. The hard truth is that the maximum that now seems politically feasible still falls short of the minimum necessary to actually solve the climate crisis.
— Al Gore

My thoughts on the speech sound a lot like Al Gore's response on his blog. Was it the best climate change speech by a US President ever? Yes, yes it was. But the only way it matters is if it's "followed by skillful and thorough execution of the plan" & "continued and constant use of the bully pulpit, determined follow-through on the steps announced"

The President and the Process

Trying to do my best to contain my jadedness, because at the end of the day - The President of the United States giving a speech on Climate Change next Tuesday is a really really big deal.

And you don't want to pre-judge a speech that he hasn't given yet.


But looking forward, on the process side, Ryan Lizza's "As the World Burns" in the New Yorker is still the best look at Congress and the failure of the last chance at climate legislation - and the difficulty future fights will face.

On the President's side, it's hard to expect much follow-through after a speech or two, because his record rarely shows follow-through. The best recent example is gun control. After some of the most passionate speeches of the President's career, we just haven't heard much on that issue at all from the White House these past few months.

The White House has rarely shown the heart to fight battles that it cannot win. But those are the battles you have  to fight, because even in failure, those fights will set-up the next battles in the years to decades to come.  

We'll see over the next weeks/months, how much follow-through the President will put behind his climate change effort, or if it's just another check mark on the second term "To-Do" list. A way to tell the historians, "Hey, I gave a speech about it! Check! Hillz you got this, right?"