The term “Phillipic” originated with the ancient Greek orator Demosthenes. The word was used to name a series of fiery speeches Demosthenes made attacking Phillip II of Macedon, Alexander the Great’s father. Since then the term has come to mean any fiery tirade. WC uses it to label any issue WC feels strongly about, strongly enough to indulge himself in a tirade.1
For example, both new Senate Majority Leader-Elect Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John A. Boehner, when asked by reporters if climate change will play a role in the Republican agenda, spew the same tired dodge: “I’m not qualified to debate the science over climate change.” Or, “I’m not a scientist.”
It’s a cop-out. If you could bag that stuff you could use it as lawn fertilizer. Consider:
- The Republicans aren’t doctors, let alone epidemiologists, but they are all over the Ebola scare.
- The Republicans aren’t economists, but they are all over the Federal Reserve and its policies.
- The Republicans aren’t military tacticians, but they are all over getting troops on the ground in Syria.
- The Republicans aren’t educators, but they don’t hesitate to criticize school curricula.
In fact, the only thing politicians – not just Republicans – are really experts at is raising money for the next campaign.
But we do expect them to make major policy decisions. And before they make those major policy decisions, we expect them to get the best possible information, to act on the best science, the best medicine, the best economic understanding. That’s their job. Back in high school, WC was taught that was what we elected them to do. Not to raise money for their next campaign and evade hard issues.
Congress has access to the very best expertise on every issue confronting the American people. In the case of climate change, we already know that 97% or more of that expertise would tell them that anthropogenic climate change is as real as death and taxes. There’s a strong consensus that a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade system is the best solution.
But the majority party doesn’t want to hear that. They’d rather dodge the issue with inanities, equivocations and non sequiturs.
It’s our job, yours and mine, to call them out when they try to dodge issues, including climate change. It’s frightening enough that the probable incoming chair of the U.S. Senate committee in charge of this issue is a climate change denier. We may not have two years for the voters to realize their error.
So don’t let them use this lame cop-out. Call it out when you hear it.