Tribune editorial: Mike Lee gets laughs, but the joke is on Utah

(CSPAN) Sen. Mike Lee uses an image of Ronald Reagan on a velociraptor to denounce the Green New Deal.

So what was that Mike Lee performance? Standup comedy?

He wasn’t exactly killing it on stage with his joke props to mock the Green New Deal resolution, but then it took a decidedly odd turn:

“The solution to climate change is not this unserious resolution that we’re considering this week in the Senate but rather the serious business of human flourishing. The solution to so many of our problems at all times and in all places is to fall in love, get married and have some kids.”

Wait. Is this still part of the joke? Does he really think we should just breed our way out of this? Lee didn’t elaborate, but is he thinking that we’ll need more babies because fewer of them will survive?

Lee got some laughs all right, but not for his punchlines. Instead he reinforced some unfortunate stereotypes about Utah as a backwater. It might be time to remind the senator that God wants us to be smart.

No. The Green New Deal resolution is not going to pass. Not even all Democrats are behind it. It’s not a bogeyman that would vanquish all cheeseburgers and airplanes, but it does overreach.

Still, it’s closer to recognizing the challenge at hand than anything Lee’s side of the aisle has offered. The best that can be said for the Republican view of climate change is that it has migrated from outright denial to constant minimizing. In reality, even the U.S. Defense Department is speaking up about the massive changes already taking place.

What is our state’s senior senator doing to address what’s ahead for Utah? Directing his staff people to build PhotoShop mashups.

The Green New Deal is about the Overton window, a description for the range of ideas that are considered reasonable. Climate change is shifting the window, and now things that were considered outside the mainstream are entering it. The charge is led by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the human embodiment of that Overton shift.

And Lee looks like he’s moving out of the frame. That speech on the Senate floor was not just impotent. It was destructive. It encourages scenes like parents denouncing the teaching of climate change in Utah schools because it’s “scaremongering.”

“Don’t quit your day job” is the usual heckle for a weak standup act.

This is Lee’s day job. If this is the best he can offer, then maybe he should quit.