My first reaction to the spat between Congressman Thomas Massie and former Secretary of State John Kerry was to simply laugh at the grown man who felt that he had created a “gotcha” moment for a political opponent by pointing out that Kerry’s political science degree was in fact not a science degree but a liberal arts degree. The Republican congressman gloated like a little schoolboy who erroneously thought he had gotten the better of a teacher he didn’t like. But by and by, I couldn’t laugh about this anymore, given that the larger context of this back-and-forth was a presidential committee on climate change and Thomas Massie was accusing John Kerry – who was one of the signatories of the Paris Climate Agreement in 2016 – of being a pseudo scientist who is trying to push pseudoscience.
This is not funny because Mr. Massie is not a little schoolboy. He is an elected representative – a lawmaker who is involved in decision making that has potential impact on the lives of all ordinary Americans, present and future. And Thomas Massie fully intends to make his mark. According to a press release issued by his office on February 7, 2017, the Representative from Kentucky introduced H.R. 899, a bill to abolish the federal Department of Education, based on the argument that “unelected bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. should not be in charge of our children’s intellectual and moral development” and that “parents have the right to choose the most appropriate educational opportunity for their children, including home school, public school, or private school.”
The fact that Congressman Thomas Massie just dismissed the idea of climate change as “pseudoscience” says a lot about what he feels should be taught in Kentucky and other places, in schools or possibly by home-schooling parents who share Massie’s skepticism towards well-established scientific findings.
It is very possible that Congressman Massie, like so many of his fellow politicians on the Republican side, was performing for an audience of one at the congressional hearing. After all, former Secretary of State Kerry has repeatedly blasted Donald Trump for his withdrawal from the Paris Agreement before denouncing the secret committee on climate change that Trump is currently putting together as “a kangaroo court” in the prelude to the memorable exchange that took place during Wednesday’s hearing. His performance may or may not win Thomas Massie a few points with Trump, who has dismissed and even ridiculed the issue of climate change on various occasions. But it was certainly not in the best interest of the people the congressman has sworn to serve because, in John Kerry’s words, ignoring climate change “[is] going to cost lives.”