Often in politics, the critical issue of a debate isn’t the one that captures the attention of the public. On big issues especially, there’s a tendency for there to be a primary debate that determines how the big public debate is waged. How this primary debate is won often determines which side will inevitably win the big public debate. It’s a lot like pre-trial motions in a big legal case determining which evidence can be presented to the jury — lose the pre-trial motions and a side can be doomed before the first juror gets a summons.
That’s exactly what is going in with whether to lift the ban on uranium mining. The pre-trial motions in this case are as to whether reasonable people could come to different conclusions about the undeniable danger of uranium mining. If the mining companies can manufacture a fake debate on whether uranium mining can ever be safe, then sooner or later, they can buy enough seats to overturn the ban. Maybe not in January, 2012, but if they can manufacture a fake debate, then they win.
How Delegate Englin votes doesn’t matter.
The foreign uranium mining interests that bought Delegate David Englin could care less whether he votes against lifting the ban (and environmentalists should do the same, how he votes matters little). The uranium lobby didn’t spend five figures buying Dave Englin for his vote, but for him providing the appearance of a good faith debate of the facts. That’s all they needed. And he gave them their money’s worth in his defense of their junket:
Some of the information we received in France conflicts with scientific studies cited by environmentalists, and I have asked both sides to respond to each other’s assertions as I work to sort out fact from fiction.
That’s the victory on the pre-trial motions the uranium companies needed to ensure they’ll inevitably win in Richmond. It doesn’t matter how Englin votes, the damage he did is irreparable. There is no way that David Englin can undo the damage he has done. None.
They only thing that matters in this debate is that uranium mining can never be safe. That’s a fact. That’s a fact Del. Englin undermined like just another one of Exxon’s climate change deniers.
That the foreign mining companies took him to see a reclaimed mine is how they attempt obscure the real debate over whether there should be a mine in the first place. Likewise, David Englin will now try and focus after the fact, pledging he’ll vote against the mine, which is little different than the mining companies pledging remediation.
When it comes to uranium mining, you can’t unshit the bed. Likewise, who cares how David Englin votes? The uranium lobby didn’t spend five figures for his vote, but for him selling the appearance of an honest debate as to whether uranium mining could be safe. They got what they paid for just like the “scientists” Exxon bought to undermine the consensus on climate change.
As for David Englin, his reputation has been mined. It’s now a radioactive superfund site. Stay away. And don’t be a sucker by listening to him say that he’s remediating the toxic waste by voting to Keep the Ban. As any political consultant will tell you, that was never what this was about, that wasn’t why they spent five figures flying him to France.
UPDATE:: Maybe there’s hope for accountability:
At the end of the day, the majority of public officials are honest, hard-working individuals determined to improve the lives of their fellow citizens. But a small number of elected, appointed, or contracted officials are only focused on their own good. The actions of corrupt officials-often with the help of private sector accomplices-undermine democratic institutions and threaten national security, which is why the FBI ranks public corruption as our top criminal priority.
As it should.