D. R. Tucker: Resentment Rules the Right

January 14, 2014

The In-laws

Aunt Teabag and Uncle Dittohead

Yesterday I reposted Dana Nuccitelli’s Guardian piece on the puffery of climate denial media. Turns out that kind of touched a nerve in that part of the denio-sphere where bloggers don’t use their real names. They’d like me to link to them, I’m sure.

Writer D. R. Tucker is a veritable research team constantly sending me his finds on the climate front from the far reaches of the web.
Here is his reaction to  Nuccitellis’ piece.

While The Guardian’s Dana Nuccitelli is right to note the consequences of conservative callousness towards the climate, I thought he missed an obvious point about such callousness: the fact there are plenty of permanently ignorant people who actually want to be misinformed and lied to.

tucker2Nuccitelli observes:

Another conservative media outlet, the Weekly Standard, has occasionally run articles encouraging the Republican Party to stop denying science and start engaging in constructive debate about the best climate solutions. Unfortunately, those types of constructive articles are the exception rather than the norm. Last week, The Weekly Standard instead ran a puff piece about contrarian climate scientist Richard Lindzen that embodied the fundamental problems in most conservative media coverage of climate change.

Dick Lindzen has long been a favorite of wingnut media; he was a frequent guest on right-wing Boston talk radio in the late-2000s, his razor tongue slicing away at climate activists. However, he wasn’t brought on to those shows just for the heck of it; he was brought on because there were plenty of listeners who wanted to be told that climate change was just a big hoax, that Al Gore was a doofus, and that climate scientists were engaged in the biggest conspiracy since that totally fake moon landing.

Nuccitelli further observes:

This Weekly Standard article exemplifies the problem with today’s conservative media, as they ironically help stick us with government greenhouse gas regulations rather than encouraging a potentially more effective free market approach favored by economists, including conservative ones.

The problem is that, as radio host Sam Seder observed in his January 2 appearance on MSNBC’s “All In with Chris Hayes,” the very point of right-wing media is to shill for various corporations, including the fossil-fuel industry. I would add that another point of right-wing media is to play to the prejudices of those who believe corporations can do no wrong, and that climate scientists can do no right. Why would the Weekly Standard acknowledge scientific reality? What’s in it for them? The pieces they once ran favorable to climate action were just throwaways, scraps tossed to whatever remaining moderate Republican readers they have left.

I no longer buy the argument that if we just communicate facts to right-wingers, they will leap to climate action. Life doesn’t work that way. There are people who, quite frankly, cannot or will not process facts.

I’m afraid there is a fundamental misunderstanding at the heart of the argument that facts are all we need to motivate a supermajority towards climate action. What motivates right-wingers is resentment, not facts. Ask yourself: why is so much of the climate denial you hear in right-wing media outlets linked to highly personal attacks on Gore?

In 2007, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman located a main source of right-wing anti-Gore resentment:

What is it about Mr. Gore that drives right-wingers insane?

Partly it’s a reaction to what happened in 2000, when the American people chose Mr. Gore but his opponent somehow ended up in the White House. Both the personality cult the right tried to build around President Bush and the often hysterical denigration of Mr. Gore were, I believe, largely motivated by the desire to expunge the stain of illegitimacy from the Bush administration.

I suspect that there’s another reason for the resentment, and it has to do with a specific policy Gore long advocated. Years ago, Gore was excoriated on the right because of his criticism of federal and state efforts to eliminate affirmative action programs. A July 16, 1998 speech in which Gore stated that those who opposed affirmative action programs on the grounds of legal color-blindness “use their color-blind the way duck hunters use a duck blind. They hide behind the phrase and just hope that we, like the ducks, won’t be able to see through it” generated particularly strong outrage; on July 23, 1998, climate-denier Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby declared, “Hunters use a duck blind to kill ducks. What can Gore be saying? That affirmative action’s critics want to kill—blacks?”

Did it ever dawn on the right that even if Gore was wrong on affirmative action, that didn’t mean he was wrong on climate change? I guess not. Anger over one policy position apparently prevents logical thinking about another.

Speaking of anger, I must admit that I now find the “snow and cold disprove global warming!!!” rhetoric on the right more morbidly amusing than infuriating these days. After all, what is snow-based climate denial but another demonstration of the twin demons of resentment and ignorance that have now fully possessed the right—resentment of science and ignorance of the facts? Frankly, the fulminating on Fox, the rantings of Rush and the inanity of Hannity simply reaffirm my decision to get the hell out of the conservative movement and the Republican Party.

The rejection of reason by right-wing talking heads also reaffirms my view that climate scientists and climate activists have to regard the scientifically illiterate not as misguided individuals who need to be lead out of ignorance, but as enemies on the battlefield of ideas, enemies that have to be politically and culturally destroyed. Let’s face it, right-wingers who wake up and smell the CO2, to use radio host Betsy Rosenberg’s line, are rarer than pro-choice Republican presidential candidates. With the hazards of climate change much more significant then previously anticipated, it’s long past time to take a scorched-earth approach towards those whose actions would leave the earth scorched. It’s time to state plainly that climate-change denial is nothing more than the (well-financed) hobby of the terminally stupid, and that those who promote it deserve to be socially and economically scorned to the greatest extent possible.

Remember Gore’s 2000 campaign slogan, “the people versus the powerful”? That slogan—that message—was so strong it earned him the popular vote. As far as I’m concerned, the fight for a stable climate is, and has always been, a fight pitting the people versus the powerful. The next time you read any publication, watch any TV show, or listen to any radio broadcast discussing climate change, ask yourself: Which side are these folks on—the side of the people and the planet, or the side of the powerful and the polluters? If they’re on the wrong side, take your money and your time elsewhere. Deny the deniers, wherever they are found.

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52 Responses to “D. R. Tucker: Resentment Rules the Right”


  1. […] D. R. Tucker: Resentment Rules the Right (Climate Crocks) [emphasis added]: […]


  2. […] 2014/01/14: PSinclair: D. R. Tucker: Resentment Rules the Right […]


  3. […] written for the Washington Monthly, Huffington Post, the Boston Herald, the Boston Globe Magazine, ClimateCrocks.com and FrumForum.com, among others. In addition, he hosted a Blog Talk Radio program, The Notes, from […]


  4. […] written for the Washington Monthly, Huffington Post, the Boston Herald, the Boston Globe Magazine, ClimateCrocks.com and FrumForum.com, among others. In addition, he hosted a Blog Talk Radio program, The Notes, from […]


  5. […] , including Washington Monthly, Huffington Post, the Boston Herald, the Boston Globe Magazine, ClimateCrocks.com, and FrumForum.com among others. In addition, he hosted a Blog Talk Radio program,The Notes , […]


  6. […] written for the Washington Monthly, Huffington Post, the Boston Herald, the Boston Globe Magazine, ClimateCrocks.com and FrumForum.com, among others. In addition, he hosted a Blog Talk Radio program, The Notes, from […]


  7. […] written for the Washington Monthly, Huffington Post, the Boston Herald, the Boston Globe Magazine, ClimateCrocks.com and FrumForum.com, among others. In addition, he hosted a Blog Talk Radio program, The Notes, from […]


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