The house my family rents for a week on Martha’s Vineyard every summer has a view of a pond, not the sea, and the only boat I own is a kayak. So I admittedly may lack the proper perspective to understand the opposition to the Cape Wind project (see Talking points). Still, I find it hard to believe that the Kennedy family—and other wealthy environmentalists who own manses on the Vineyard, Cape Cod, and Nantucket—can feel no evident embarrassment in opposing an offshore wind farm on the grounds that they might glimpse it from their decks. As we’ve been recently reminded, generating energy always results in some inconvenience; ask the families of the dead coal miners, or the millions living around the oil-fouled Gulf of Mexico. Yet “greens” like Robert F. Kennedy Jr. still think it’s a terrible idea to put some windmills where they have to look at them. Why, they might even have to tack around the damn things in their sailboats! (It’s not just that, Kennedy says; he’s also worried about sea ducks, ferries, and fishermen.)
But let us not judge our fellow hypocrites too harshly. We’d all like to believe we arrive at our political positions through careful, dispassionate analysis, but the truth is that they are often the product of naked self-interest, tribal identification, and/or gut-deep prejudices. The rational justifications come later. Thus it is that pundit George F. Will finds it perfectly reasonable for Arizona police to ask Hispanics for their papers, while the equally conservative Jeb Bush—who is married to a Colombian woman—is chagrined. If my backyard faced Nantucket Sound, I’d probably want those damn windmills built somewhere else, too.