Vivek Ramaswamy presents himself as a man for this political moment — a 38-year-old entrepreneur without the baggage of a politician, who is not a “SuperPAC puppet” (as he calls Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis) and can tell the truth.
But faced with an unexpected question about climate change at the first GOP presidential primary debate, Ramaswamy chose to lie. “The climate-change agenda,” he declared, “is a hoax.”
Republicans being wrong on climate change is nothing new, of course. But it’s an especially virulent strain of climate denial to cast climate change — and the potential for humans to fix it — as a conspiracy theory in 2023.
The fact that the question made it to the GOP debate stage speaks to the undeniable nature of the crisis. Even Fox News(!) saw fit to make climate the second question of the night — introducing the subject in the context of the deadly wildfires in Maui, the bizarre tropical storm that just hit California, and 100-degree temperature waters off the coast of Florida.
The network then teed up a video from a young questioner, named Alexander, who pointed to climate change as the top concern of young people. He asked: “How will you as both President of the United States and leader of the Republican Party calm their fears that the Republican Party doesn’t care about climate change?”
Before turning the question over to the candidates, Bret Baier first attempted to set the parameters for the debate of this question with flash poll, asking the candidates to raise their hands if they believe “human behavior is causing climate change.”
But before a second has passed, as if he were throwing himself on a live hand grenade, DeSantis leaped in to foil that exercise. “Look, we’re not school children,” he scolded. “I don’t think that’s the way to do [it].” DeSantis jumped straight to debating the question, without being pinned down as a climate change accepter or denier. He used his time at the mic, not to address global warming, but to pivot to an attack on Biden for his supposedly sluggish response to the Maui fire.
Ramaswamy took the mic next. He piped in to suggest that DeSantis has raised his hand only to contrast his firm denialism: “My hand’s in my pocket,” he insisted. The candidate then insisted that attempting to confront the mega-trillion dollar threat of the climate crisis is bad for American business. “The anti-carbon agenda is the wet blanket on our economy,” he said, echoing the remarks he made in his opening remarks, that his “not-complicated” agenda was to “unlock American energy, drill, frack, burn coal.” [Continue reading…]