The best part of President Trump’s remarks on America’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord came in respect of sovereignty. This was marked toward the end, when the President turned to what he called the “serious legal and constitutional issues.” Say what you will about the climate, the president is not sworn to it.
No, the president is sworn to the Constitution. It clearly bothers Mr. Trump, as it does us, that, as he put it, “Foreign leaders in Europe, Asia, and across the world should not have more to say with respect to the U.S. economy than our own citizens and their elected representatives.” He called our withdrawal from the agreement ”a reassertion of America’s sovereignty.”
This kind of talk is music to our ears — and not just ours, we’ll warrant. “Our Constitution is unique among all the nations of the world, and it is my highest obligation and greatest honor to protect it,” Mr. Trump vowed. “And I will.” He then marked that the agreement could “pose serious obstacles for the United States as we begin the process of unlocking the restrictions on America’s abundant energy reserves, which we have started very strongly.”
“It would once have been unthinkable that an international agreement could prevent the United States from conducting its own domestic economic affairs, but this is the new reality we face if we do not leave the agreement or if we do not negotiate a far better deal. The risks grow as historically these agreements only tend to become more and more ambitious over time.”
This is the talk of a proper president. And what a contrast to President Obama’s statement. Not one mention of constitutional principles. Not one mention of the sovereignty issue. Mr. Obama suggests Mr. Trump is lagging the private sector. But Mr. Trump has put no brakes on the ability of private enterprise to try to make and sell solutions to any climate problem. Mr. Trump is neither sneering at the concerns of the climate movement, nor denying science.
Mr. Trump made it clear that he is prepared to resume negotiations over a climate pact that stops short of his constitutional redlines. It’s the same tack he has taken in respect of trade. The fact is that millions of Americans get his concern. It echoes what was bothering the British when they voted for independence. He is not rejecting the future, but he insists on going into it true to his constitutional oath.