After the conclusion of the second presidential debate, moderator Candy Crowley explained why she didn't get to any questions about climate change. At least one query about global warming had made it through the shady screening process, but Crowley just didn't have time to get to it, she said.
"Climate change — I had that question, all you climate change people. We just — you know, again, we knew that the economy was still the main thing, so you knew you kind of wanted to go with the economy. Maybe gas prices; gas prices was something that hadn't come up," she said during the post-debate analysis.And that single statement is so, so telling.
To beltway pundits like Crowley, climate change is a political issue like any other; Democrats have their position, Republicans have theirs. It is treated as an issue that draws attention from a devoted base of political activists — "all you climate change people" — not the globe-spanning world-transforming phenomenon that it is. There are some people that care about climate change, but they are fringy environmentalists with a horse in the race.
Within the beltway bubble, climate change is an "issue" among countless others, weighed alongside tax cuts and deficit reduction and immigration reform and everything else; it is something politicians are "for" or "against," and its pertinence wanes whenever "the economy is the main thing." In their world, climate change is politics, little more, and can be waved away when inconvenient. They are unwilling or unable to process the scientific reality of a phenomenon that is already beginning to impact the lives of Americans everywhere, exacerbating droughts and driving record-breaking heat waves — to people like Candy Crowley, climate change is just another thing that politicians have opinions about.