If you put yourself out there as the presidential candidate most in touch with The People, if you put yourself out there as the champion of the environment, and if you put yourself out there as the candidate best able to represent the Pacific Northwest and bring about “change,” you should have a staff competent enough to brief you on the biggest policy issues consuming the electorate’s energies there as you campaign for votes.
The Hanford nuclear waste clean-up has gone on for decades. It’s been a cause celebre for environmentalists and the PNW congressional delegation. When I worked at the Seattle Times, I took a tour of the now-closed Fast Flux Test Facility at Hanford, which some cancer researchers said could have been used to produce life-saving medical isotopes. Every year brings new funding battles. Hanford is to the region as Yucca Mountain is to Nevada, and Obama was plenty opinionated about the latter issue.
Well, McCain was asked about Hanford last week while in Washington state and offered a concrete policy answer:
Asked whether Washington state residents would stand for more nuclear power development after dealing with some monumental problems, including the polluted Hanford site in Eastern Washington, McCain said he would speed cleanup efforts and push for technological advances in disposing of nuclear waste.
McCain said the U.S. should emulate Europe in advancing its methods of cleaning up the radioactive byproducts of nuclear power.
Over the weekend, Obama also took a question about Hanford. Let’s underscore here that Hanford is not some tiny municipal dump. It’s the nation’s most contaminated nuclear site. Obama’s response? Well, watch it yourselves (hat tip: blogs4mccain):
Here’s something that you will rarely hear from a politician, and that is that I’m not familiar with the Hanford, uuuuhh, site, so I don’t know exactly what’s going on there. (Applause.) Now, having said that, I promise you I’ll learn about it by the time I leave here on the ride back to the airport.
Yes, typical Obama supporters applauded and cheered him for announcing his ignorance and then using it as an exercise in self-congratulations.
Imagine if it had been the Republican presidential candidate patting himself on the back for not knowing Hanford from, uhhhh, Sioux City. Or Sioux Falls. Or somewhere in some of those states in the middle. Whatever.