The following was in the on-line edition of the Wall Street Journal this evening.
On the same [NY Times] page, Matthew Algeo, author of “The President Is a Sick Man,” describes how severe the weather has become. “On Tuesday, Aug. 22, in the Atlantic Ocean, four hurricanes were swirling simultaneously, an event never before recorded. . . . Wednesday night, one of the hurricanes slammed into New York City. At least 30 people were killed.” Four days later, an even more powerful hurricane killed some 2,000 in and around Savannah, Ga.
What, you don’t remember reading about those storms in the papers? That’s not because reporters are dropping the climate-change ball, but because Algeo is writing history, not news. The hurricanes in question occurred in 1893.
“Grover Cleveland did nothing,” Algeo writes. The 24th president, a Democrat, “opposed government intervention in natural disasters,” which he thought, as he once wrote in a veto message, “encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character.” Just like Imaginary Mitt Romney!
But all’s well that ends well. “Into the void stepped Clara Barton, . . . who had founded the American Red Cross 12 years earlier,” Algeo writes. “Her heroic work, especially in the South, saved countless thousands from disease and starvation.”
Yet even though private charity proved sufficient in the absence of federal action, the history Algeo recounts is an indictment of Cleveland. To see why, connect the dots with the Kristof column. America was already experiencing severe weather in 1893. Yet history records that Stephen Grover Cleveland, despite having been president twice, did nothing to stop global warming.
Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it; the second time as farce.