White House climate policy czar Carol Browner recently left her post “to spend more time with her family” (political-speak for “thanks for playing, but don’t let the door hit you in the backside on your way out”).
Given his 2008 campaign pledge to get Congress to deal with US carbon pollution and thereby support a global successor to the Kyoto climate change accord, I assume President Obama will now need to appoint a replacement who can push through what Ms. Browner could not. Let me be the first to nominate Hosni Mubarak.
Mubarak is the perfect choice. He will soon be unemployed and kind of needs a change of scenery. He clearly knows how to deal forcefully with anyone that disagrees with him (Tea Party Brotherhood, beware!). His foreign accent will go over well with allies at the UN, who just don’t think the US is serious about tackling climate change and the impacts of carbon pollution (are you listening, China?). And this could quiet the demonstrations in Egypt overnight, because his opponents will feel good that he’s leaving the country and his supporters will feel good that their guy is getting a big promotion.
Imagine the first meeting between Obama, Mubarak, and House Speaker John Boehner to hammer out a deal.
Mubarak: Thank you, Mr. President, for that kind introduction. Now, Mr. Speaker, why you don’t believe in climate change?
Boehner: I just don’t think it’s human-caused.
Mubarak: What, you think aliens caused it, like the ones who built pyramids? Get with the program, Mr. Speaker, or FBI will visit your house tonight with all the “evidence” you will need.
Obama: Ha ha, Hosni! We don’t do things that way in the US.
Mubarak: (whispering) With all due respect, Mr. President, you should change your ways. My methods are clearly working - - look, he’s crying!
Yes, Mubarak is the clear choice for this duty and can testify first-hand to the hand-wringers (or knuckle draggers) in Congress about the urgent need to deal with this problem. If you cut carbon emissions, you also cut carbon particles that are literally stealing the breath of our kids. Living in Cairo is the equivalent of smoking two packs of Camels a day (oh, bad pun, sorry), mostly attributable to the diesel exhaust. Studies in Los Angeles, Houston, and Manhattan have shown that we’re in similar danger in the US, especially our kids. Cutting carbon pollution will therefore lower some health care costs that many in Congress are complaining about, so the President scores a political and policy two-fer by appointing an enforcer like Mubarak.
And who better to help us end our addiction to fossil fuels than someone from a country that has a distinguished history of literally worshipping the sun? If he can’t persuade Congress to end fossil fuel subsidies and support smarter choices like solar power, who can? Moreover, he’s had a front row seat to our oil war in Iraq and I suspect he can tell some stories about how it has made America un-loved throughout the region. Reducing our fossil fuel dependence checks the boxes on climate change, domestic energy supply and jobs, and homeland security. Won’t that combination convince even the most entrenched special interests on Capital Hill?
So Mr. President, please suggest this on your next call to Mubarak. I’m sure he’s already being inundated by other offers or may be just be planning to “spend more time with his family.” Let’s hire him before it’s too late for our country and our planet.
Terry Tamminen, former Secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency, is a partner at Pegasus Sustainable Century Merchant Bank and the Cullman Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation. (Cracking The Carbon Code is a registered trademark of Terry Tamminen).