Debate Moderator Fail: Does anyone worry about gas prices when their home is destroyed by disaster?

I always felt Candy Crowley focused on the frivolous, like most of CNN, so she exceeded my expectations moderating the Presidential debate. She mostly did an acceptable job, but her decision to focus the energy discussion on gas prices rather than climate change was a massive failure.

Crowley chose the question on gas prices and asked two follow-up questions to keep the focus there. It’s a way of framing the energy debate that ignores a far more important issue. If a person’s home or workplace is destroyed by a catastrophic flood, hurricane, or wildfire, or if their crop is destroyed by drought, then suddenly gas prices aren’t the most important problem. I can only guess about whether Crowley’s misguided focus is due to a lack of understanding of the enormity of the problem or because of CNN’s reliance on massive advertising revenue from the fossil fuel industry. The press is still part of the problem.

It’s disappointing that Obama didn’t raise climate change himself, but keeping the focus on gas prices is a way to put politicians who want to deal with climate change on the defensive. Obama did the right thing by investing heavily in clean energy and efficiency. But, the smaller stimulus investments in clean coal have largely been a failure and pandering to coal is gaining Obama nothing politically. The coal industry will continue spending millions to fight him, no matter how much he increases coal mining production or throws subsidies at them.

The American energy infrastructure needs to be rebuilt. It’s the best large-scale jobs plan anyone has come up with. It’s time to stop kidding people about bringing back coal jobs (new mining methods employ half as many people anyway) and make sure more of the new energy economy jobs are created in poor coal mining regions. The alternative is to let our economy be destroyed by climate change disasters. Obama may not be aggressive enough, but Romney’s energy policy is simply suicidal.

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