So here’s how bad our political world has gotten: The 2015 recipient of the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award is former South Carolina congressman Bob Inglis, who won the award for being an actual Republican who’s willing to say in public that climate change is real and caused by human activity. Apparently that is rare enough that it’s considered courageous.
Oh, and also political suicide: You might remember Inglis, who was a very conservative conservative Republican from South Carolina who lost his primary in 2010 to Tea party loonperson Trey Gowdy because Inglis, while staunchly anti-abortion and pro-gun, refused to accept certain fundamental truths of being a Conservative Republican in 2010. Like, for instance, that Barack Obama is an illegal alien who should never have been allowed to take office, or that the back of your Social Security Card indicates which international banking cartel owns you. The scoundrel even called on Joe Wilson to apologize for shouting “You Lie!” at Obama.
Worstest of all, he agreed in an election year with 97% of climate scientists that humans have caused climate change, which he went and said out loud, leading to the angry boos at a town hall in the video up above. And for Godssake, he still calls himself a conservative and thinks that free-market economics should be used to reduce greenhouse gasses — not just through crossing our fingers and hoping the Invisible Hand will fix things, but through market-based incentives. This tends to make wingnut heads explode — just look at the denunciations of him in the comments of this 2014 Daily Caller article where Inglis suggested cutting income taxes and offsetting the revenue with a carbon tax. Just in case you’ve forgotten how nuts things were in 2010, go back and read the Mother Jones profile of Inglis from shortly after he lost.
Following his expulsion from Congress by the teabagger militia, Inglis has been heading up the Energy and Enterprise Initiative, which seeks to encourage market-driven approaches to addressing climate change, and may also serve as a halfway house for recovering climate deniers.
The JFK Library Foundation citation notes what a weird and dangerous thing it was for Inglis to say that he thought that, just maybe, science was real and not simply a scam cooked up by a cabal of liberals and scientists so they could take away our F-350s and make us live in yurts:
Former U.S. Congressman Bob Inglis was named the 2015 recipient of the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award™ for the political courage he demonstrated when he reversed his previous position on climate change, knowing that by acknowledging the scientific reality of atmospheric warming and calling on the United States to meaningfully address the issue, he was jeopardizing his political career. In June 2010, Inglis lost his re-election due in part to this decision.
The citation even recalls those mythical bygone days when a member of the House Science Committee actually gave two shits about science, noting that
as Ranking Member of the Energy and Environment Subcommittee, Inglis initially opposed efforts to address climate change. But interactions with scientists in Antarctica, Australia and elsewhere, along with encouragement from his five children, changed his views on climate change, and he began advocating for a carbon tax to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. In Washington and South Carolina, Inglis’s acknowledgment of the scientific reality of climate change drew intense criticism from within the Republican Party, and in June 2010, he was defeated for re-election in the Republican primary.
It’s a pretty sad thing that recognizing scientific reality is something that we have to give awards for. But as JFK’s grandson Jack Schlossberg said in recognition of Inglis,
In reversing his own position and breaking with his party to acknowledge the realities of a changing climate and its threat to human progress, he displayed the courage to keep an open mind and uphold his responsibilities as a leader and citizen at the expense of his own political career.
Also, in a stunning rebuke, the Kennedy Library won’t even be giving “participant” ribbons to any of the Republicans who have waved off questions about climate by saying “I’m not a scientist” or “I believe the climate is always changing.” They won’t even get any ice cream.