Flying Upside Down: Inhofe Wrong Again

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, perhaps the world’s most infamous opponent of climate-change science, has yet again made a political prediction that didn’t come true.

Before the November election, Inhofe predicted that presidential candidate Mitt Romney would beat President Barack Obama by a “substantial margin” and that Republicans would “take over the United States Senate.” Wrong and wrong.

Just recently, Inhofe, now the ranking Republican member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, made the claim on CNN that former U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel might not be confirmed as Secretary of Defense because Democrats wouldn’t rally around the Obama nominee. After his CNN appearance, The Hill published a story under the headline, "Inhofe predicts Democrats will bail on Hagel." Wrong again.

Hagel, who, of course, was confirmed for the post, was opposed by Republicans supposedly because the former Nebraska Republican senator’s previous statements about Iran, among other things, allegedly showed he wouldn’t take a tough enough line against that country and its nuclear program.

Hagel is a Vietnam War veteran, who was wounded in action. He served as a senator from 1997 to 2009, and voted with his fellow Republicans most of the time during the former President George W. Bush era. That wasn’t enough for Inhofe and other Republicans, including Texas U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, who tried to create a mini-controversy around his nomination.

Inhofe’s wrong predictions can be viewed as either disingenuous political hyperbole or just plain error, but either way he continues to embarrass Oklahoma as he seeks the public spotlight for his controversial and often extremist views.

After Hagel was confirmed, Inhofe ungraciously noted in a press release the he still had “serious concerns about the ability of Senator Hagel to lead the Department of Defense” and that Hagel should stop “the devastating cuts to our military associated with sequestration.” The press release mentioned nothing about Inhofe’s prior statement about supposed lack of Democratic support for Hagel.

Inhofe’s sheer “wrongness” about how he perceives the current political reality in Washington and other parts of the country shows just how out of touch he remains. It also serves as a reminder of the ludicrous nature of his claim that global warming is simply a liberal, political hoax. Inhofe might continue to be the darling of The Oklahoman and the Tulsa World editorial pages for his ultra-conservative views, but he’s the subject of ridicule throughout much of the world.

Inhofe, who has more than $600,000 in his campaign chest, is expected to run for reelection in 2014, according to Roll Call, which predicts an easy victory for him. This is what Roll Call has to say about Inhofe’s reelection:

Inhofe, 78, plans to run, and there’s little doubt he’ll win. His aides say that when reporters press Inhofe about re-election, he says, “When I can no longer fly an airplane upside down, I will quit.”

Inhofe runs almost zero risk of a primary challenge as one of the most conservative senators on Capitol Hill. Oklahoma is a ruby-red state, so a general election challenge is equally unlikely.

Of course, being wrong about significant world issues and basic political realities outside of the state has never been a detriment to running for and winning office here in Oklahoma. The real question is how much more damage Inhofe can do to the state’s national and world image in another six-year term.