“This is really, seriously happening here?” is a question that can be asked about so many things in this country right now. But it was a question that a rightfully flabbergasted John Kerry asked at a House Oversight Committee hearing on Tuesday once he realized the insanity unfolding before him. The bizarre line of questioning reveals that Republicans are more interested in feigning ignorance and playing word games than in taking bold actions to save our endangered planet.
Kerry, who served as Secretary of State while helping broker the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, was the first of only two witnesses invited to the hearing. GOP Congressman Thomas Massie’s belligerent and infantile questioning of Kerry ironically proved the very need for such a hearing, which was entitled “The Need for Leadership to Combat Climate Change and Protect National Security.” Massie used his time to try to paint Kerry not only as unqualified to talk about climate change but as a total fraud. However, the only thing that Massie accomplished was portraying himself as a proud fool.
Massie first tried to expose Kerry as someone who did not earn a science degree in college, as if the revelation of that public fact is some sort of gotcha moment. “Isn’t it true you have a science degree from Yale?” he asked, playing dumb. After Kerry corrected Massie and pointed out that he has a bachelor of arts degree, Massie then pretended to be confused. Confirming with Kerry that he majored in political science, Massie then switched into full ignoramus mode, wondering aloud: “How do you get a bachelor of arts in science?” Finally, Massie acted as if he just caught a longtime swindler: “Okay, so it’s not really science. So, I think it’s somewhat appropriate that somebody with a pseudoscience degree is here pushing pseudoscience before our committee today.”
Of course, science is not just about people with lab coats and safety goggles mixing things together in beakers and flasks. It is a broad discipline that includes the social sciences, such as the very popular field of political science. However, you don’t need to be any kind of scientist to talk about or advocate for the environment, and Kerry has never pretended to be one. Instead, he has relied on such people, noting that “all 97% of the scientists have agreed” that human beings have been contributing to the increase in climate change.
John Kerry did not fall for Massie’s shenanigans, slamming the surreal exchange as “just not a serious conversation.” As a seasoned lawmaker with vast experience on this issue, Kerry was simply doing his job as a non-scientist to urge our government to lead the way through this mounting crisis. Massie and others who continue to defend Donald Trump’s withdrawal of our nation from the Paris Accord as glaciers continue melting nearby are only cementing their place on the wrong side of history.