In the wake of Monday's shattering tornado that carved its way through Oklahoma City and its suburbs, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI.) made his way to the U.S. senate where he made a charged speech detailing his position on the deadly tragedy which killed 24 people, including nine children.
In his speech, the Senator harnessed the attention being paid to the disaster and, while his "we are stuck in this together" might have been an attempt at a bitterly compassionate comfort line, his illustration of Republicans as "running off the climate cliff like a bunch of proverbial lemmings" proves that one is hard-pressed to find a clear-cut sympathetic line in the entire speech. Whitehouse only used the opportunity to denounce his Republican colleagues for refusing to acknowledge the role of anthropogenic global warming in these disasters.
Posed in front of a sign reading "Time to Wake Up," Whitehouse reprimanded Republican senators, saying they were "disgracing [themselves]" and referred to various states that have requested federal aid in the aftermath of large-scale natural disasters, basically implying that deniers of global warming are its biggest driving force and are thereby indirect contributors to natural disasters.
"When cyclones tear up Oklahoma and hurricanes swamp Alabama and wildfires scorch Texas, you come to us, the rest of the country, for billions of dollars to recover," Whitehouse declared. "And the damage that your polluters and deniers are doing doesn't just hit Oklahoma and Alabama and Texas. It hits Rhode Island with floods and storms. It hits Oregon with acidified seas, it hits Montana with dying forests. So, like it or not, we're in this together … you drag America with you to your fate."
The speech continued on to preach about "doing right" by America's people "and the world" to avoid a failure characterized by "environmental and diplomatic damage", something that would be the result of a disgraced Republican Party whose extremists have been allowed to "run off the cliff."
Whitehouse's boldly obvious agenda and "I told you so" qualities are both disappointing. If the speech had even been fused with a neutral analysis of the events or his condolences it would have been slightly easier to sit through. Even as his time at the microphone ended he continued to use the tragedy as a warning for not heeding his call. As he said, "I will keep reaching out and calling out, ever hopeful that you will wake up before it is too late."