One of our astute readers noticed that the Obama ad we posted the other day unfairly dinged McCain for not supporting transport of used nuclear fuel through Arizona. Jon Ralston over the the Las Vegas Sun takes up the cudgel. Here’s a fuller context, quoted by Ralston:
[Sam] Shad[, host of Nevada Newsmakers]: “Would you be comfortable with nuclear waste coming through Arizona on its way, you know going through Phoenix, on its way to Yucca Mountain?”
McCain: “No, I would not. No, I would not. I think it can be made safe.”
(We merged Ralston’s version a little to fully contextualize the quote.) The Obama ad doesn’t include that last line, and Ralston assumes McCain misheard the question as asking him whether he would object to fuel being transported through Arizona. Fair enough, though a little ambiguous – one could say the missing line indicates McCain is playing the same “safe” card as does Obama.
And there’s more along those line. Ralston notes that McCain might be hedging a bit now that the state and its five electors are in play:
Now [McCain] is trying to fudge a little by saying [Yucca Mountain] has to meet “the environmental and safety standards that are necessary,” as he told KLAS-TV’s Mark Sayre over the weekend. That’s the same “sound science” sop — and a meaningless one — President Bush and many others have used.
Not to mention Obama. Whether you like Obama’s politics or not, McCain does seem to be co-opting his competitor’s views since they play better to the intended audience. (To be scrupulously fair, the whole offshore drilling kerfluffle showed that Obama can play the same game – maybe it’s a politician thing.)
Truly it is frustrating. Yucca Mountain may be just too vulnerable to scare tactics and misinformation for any politician to state the plain truth: Yucca Mountain, stuffed to its geologic gills with dry casks, is not a danger to Nevadans or anyone else. Shipping nuclear fuel to it endangers no one and is not vulnerable to terrorist attack.
(Yes, we’re linking to NEI Fact Sheets. They’re pretty darn thorough –in fact, if you think there’s a problem with any of them, please let us know in comments or privately. We really do aim to make them complete and accurate – NEI would have no credibility if it, you know, lied or spun.)
Let’s let Ralston make his point:
So with McCain, you pretty much know what’s going to happen on Yucca and with Obama it’s a gamble — a microcosm of the election, from some perspectives at least.
Hmm. Frankly, we think Ralston demonstrated the opposite – Obama said what he said and has not changed a bit while McCain is nosing away from his original position. It’s interesting to see the narratives that develop around politicians solidify even when events contradict them.
Laurence Oliver in Marathon Man. Odd that an actor with perhaps the most lauded career in the 20th century should be remembered best by many people for a single line in (an admittedly hair-raising) movie scene: “is it safe?”