wet noodle

Arriana Huffington delivers some bad advice to the eventual Democratic nominee:

If he’s smart enough to use it, the Democratic nominee may have just been handed the perfect cudgel with which to pummel President Bush - and cripple Karl Rove’s attempts to position his man as America’s go-to guy on national security.

The weapon in question is a new report on the grave and gathering threat posed by global climate change - and the potentially cataclysmic consequences of the Bush administration’s obstinately ignorant approach to global warming.

Bad idea. This report was not a prediction. It wasn’t even a forecast. It was a “what if” scenario. Hardly the sort of thing that makes a good cudgel – more like a wet noodle.

She goes on to describe Marshall as “a legendary DOD figure, nicknamed “Yoda” for his sagacity”. Not exactly how I’ve heard him described.

Billmon wrote an excellent essay discussing this report, where he discusses Marshall’s reputation:

Some, such as investigative journalist Ken Silverstein, have described Marshall as little more than a “pork-seeking” missile, constantly dreaming up new threats to justify new weapons systems or defense spending programs. Even his supporters tend to portray him as a “professional worry wort” fascinated by extreme, low-probability scenarios. And the climate change report is just that: a scenario, not a forecast.

He stops short, though, of dismissing any concern over climate change at all:

One could look at the scenario and see another exercise in made-to-order threat mongering. What better way to justify a high and rising defense budget than projecting a world of perpetual crisis, in which, to borrow the report’s phrase, “warfare defines human life”?

On the other hand, one could also see the report as an example of how rapidly the climate issue is being mainstreamed by the weight of the scientific evidence – to the point where even Pentagon bureaucrats and oil industry consultants are being forced to think the unthinkable.

I’d like to think it’s the latter. Either way, though, the threat of catastrophic climate change appears to be real. To paraphrase Tom Friedman, some things are true even if the Pentagon believes them.

Read his essay for more, and also check out this article on the American Prospect about Marshall.

The Democrats have been blessed with a neverending torrent of hard numbers to wield against Republican claims of successful policy. There’s really no need to be chasing after speculative doomsday scenarios.