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SG-W:/ NYTimes Column on Bush, Nader, land use and the environment



Today's New York Times has a column, by regular columnist Thomas L. Friedman, 
called The Last Green Mile, which may be of interest to readers of this 
e-list. 

Here's the link (may require FREE registration): 
http://www.nytimes.com/2000/12/08/opinion/08FRIE.html  

Here's the text: 

>> The Last Green Mile
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
 
With the odds increasing every day that George W. Bush will be declared the 
43rd president, a couple of things are becoming clear: Bush voters are the 
likely winners. Gore voters are the likely losers. And all those people who 
voted for Ralph Nader and the Green Party are the likely really big losers.

Why? Just do the math. Assuming a very narrow victory for Mr. Bush, and a 
50-50 split in the U.S. Senate, it's highly doubtful that on the big policy 
issues — tax cuts, Social Security, education, foreign policy — a Bush 
administration will be able to do much more, or much less, than a Gore 
administration.

Where Mr. Bush will have the biggest impact is not through the 
macro-politics, but through the micro-politics — on all those issues that 
reside just below the radar, on all those issues where the hundreds of 
assistant secretaries, agency heads and department chiefs, whom the Bush team 
will appoint throughout the government, will have the discretion, guidance 
and desire to impose a conservative ethos.

And what are those issues? Well, let's see — things like how environmental 
regulations are interpreted, where oil wells can be dug in Alaska, what sorts 
of lands the Interior Department sets aside for conservation, how worker 
health and safety rules are enforced or expanded, how labor laws are 
interpreted, how gun control is dealt with, how aggressively fuel efficiency 
standards are pursued, how assiduously global population control programs are 
supported and to what extent the U.S. works to curb the "greenhouse" gases 
that are causing global warming.

There is actually another name for all these environmental, social and labor 
issues: "The Nader Agenda." These are all the issues that Ralph Nader and his 
supporters professed to care most about. Well, guess what? All their issues 
are going to get the short end of the stick from a Bush-staffed bureaucracy, 
which will be heavily influenced by the oil and gas industry, the National 
Rifle Association and the anti-abortion lobby. 

Just think about one area — global warming. Instead of having as president Al 
Gore, someone who would have made it a priority to rescue the failed Kyoto 
climate change treaty, we will probably have a president and vice president 
both of whom came from the energy business and don't even believe global 
warming is for real. Mr. Bush's chief of staff will be Andrew Card, who spent 
the last seven years as chief lobbyist for the auto industry, fighting 
tighter fuel economy, air pollution and global warming regulations. So Mr. 
Nader helped deliver a president from the oil industry, a vice president from 
the drilling industry and a chief of staff from the auto industry. Have a 
nice day. 

Indeed, when we wake up 20 years from now and find that the Atlantic Ocean is 
just outside Washington, D.C., because the polar icecaps are melting, we may 
look back at this pivotal election. We may wonder whether it wasn't the last 
moment when a U.S. policy to deal with global warming might have made a 
difference, and we may ask why the party most concerned about that, the 
Greens, helped to elect Mr. Bush by casting 97,000 Nader votes in Florida.

Nader's voters forgot what Nader's Raiders always remembered: Government is 
not just about the big bills and legislation. It's also about lots of little 
things, decided by lots of little bureaucrats whom each party brings to 
Washington when it takes over.

Throughout the campaign, the egomaniacal Mr. Nader — who makes Ross Perot 
look selfless by comparison — justified taking away votes from Mr. Gore by 
arguing that there really wasn't much difference between him and Mr. Bush. 
And, like a good Leninist, Mr. Nader also didn't seem to mind destroying the 
Democratic Party to save it. Well, maybe there didn't appear to be much 
difference between the two men — but there was a huge difference between the 
hundreds of key people Al Gore and George Bush would appoint to staff their 
administrations. And those hundreds of people will make thousands of 
decisions that one day will add up to a very big difference. 

If you need any proof of that, look at Florida. Look at how many key 
decisions were taken by "little people" who resided below the radar screens — 
local judges, senior state officials and local election supervisors. They are 
the gears of government, and in a Bush administration they are the ones who 
will be interpreting and regulating everything the Naderites care about. As I 
said, have a nice day.  <<








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