With the conference at Copenhagen collapsing and China balking at anything more than a mission statement, some have begun to wonder whether Barack Obama will follow through on his commitment to attend it this weekend. After all, Obama has already come home from Copenhagen empty-handed once this year. Would he risk doing it again? ABC’s Sunlen Miller and Yunji de Nies say yes:
Despite some rumors swirling in Copenhagen that the lack of progress at the ongoing climate change summit will cause President Obama to cancel his attendance tomorrow, the White House says no – the President is still committed to going.
There have been “no changes” to the President’s plans, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters this morning.
Mr. Obama is set to leave this evening for an overnight trip to Copenhagen. He’ll spend the day Friday on the ground in Demark in hopes to negotiate toward a politically non-binding agreement.
Last night Chinese officials on the ground in Copenhagen said they see no possibility of achievement of a concrete operational accord this week, and have balked at the transparency requirements for a possible agreement. The White House said this morning that the elements of an agreement are there, and hopes China will get on board.
That’s what they’re saying now, but Obama can’t afford to look foolish for at least the third time on his international adventures. He went to Copenhagen earlier this year to make a personal plea to land the Olympics for Chicago, which wound up in last place in the final selection process. He returned with considerable egg on his face for that decision, tossed in some cases by his allies. His trip to Asia got poor marks across the political spectrum for having accomplished nothing, and set people to wondering whether his amateurish handling of presidential diplomacy was becoming a pattern.
The only time a President should travel to such a conference is if two essential elements are in place. First, the agreement should be all but finished in order to make the President look effective in completing it. Second, it should have considerable domestic support. Bill Clinton made the mistake of ignoring the second condition with Kyoto on climate change, and it ended up making him look particularly ineffective with the Senate unanimously voted to ignore the treaty rather than even consider ratifying it. If the same thing happens again to Obama for the third time in a year, he’s going to look not just ineffective but clueless as well.
In the next few hours, expect pressing domestic issues to pre-empt Obama’s Copenhagen trip. My guess is that Obama will declare that the impasse in the Senate on ObamaCare has created a need for him to roll up his sleeves with Ben Nelson, Bernie Sanders, and Harry Reid.
Update: In the Department of Delicious Irony, we see that the Al Gore Effect has struck the Copenhagen conference:
World leaders flying into Copenhagen today to discuss a solution to global warming will first face freezing weather as a blizzard dumped 10 centimeters (4 inches) of snow on the Danish capital overnight.
“Temperatures will stay low at least the next three days,” Henning Gisseloe, an official at Denmark’s Meteorological Institute, said today by telephone, forecasting more snow in coming days. “There’s a good chance of a white Christmas.”
Delegates from 193 countries have been in Copenhagen since Dec. 7 to discuss how to fund global greenhouse gas emission cuts. U.S. President Barack Obama will arrive before the summit is scheduled to end tomorrow.
Denmark has a maritime climate and milder winters than its Scandinavian neighbors. It hasn’t had a white Christmas for 14 years, under the DMI’s definition, and only had seven last century. Temperatures today fell as low as minus 4 Celsius (25 Fahrenheit).
Maybe Someone is trying to tell them something …