09/24/2014 03:27 pm ET Updated Nov 24, 2014

The Oklahoma Granny

The television camera momentarily zoomed in on the elderly grey-haired matron in the midst of the historic climate change protest march in New York City. She was brandishing a sign that read "Angry Granny from Oklahoma."

One reason why she would be angry immediately came to mind. The individual who represents her in the Senate, Republican James Inhofe, calls global warming a "hoax".

But that's not all. He denounces those who advocate combatting climate change as wild-eyed "extremists" bent on doing away with fossil fuels and destroying the economy in the process.

"God is still up there (controlling the weather)," Inhofe recently intoned in a Senate speech. "People would like to think it is man who is causing climate change. They don't want any progress."

That is a pretty sweeping indictment of the more than 300,000 people from all walks of life and age groups who paraded in New York City on September 21. No one in the crowd was calling for trashing the economy. But there were plenty of vibes for transitioning as quickly as possible from a polluting fossil fuel based economy to one revolving around clean, renewable energy.

This transitional scenario doesn't impress Inhofe. Instead, he has likely further stirred granny's ire with his insistence that the global warming threat has been soundly rejected by the American people. It is a claim contradicted by far more than a massive protest march, national polling data being a case in point.

To top it off, Inhofe has vowed that if the Republicans regain control of the Senate and he reclaims chairmanship of the Environment and Public Works Committee, he will do his utmost to rescind climate change regulations instituted by the Obama Administration. (It is a wonder that granny was not frothing at the mouth.)

Of course, Inhofe is not alone in his denigration of climate change adherents. A number of his Republican colleagues are also quick to demonize those who consider global warming a legitimate concern. Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming recently took to the Senate floor to declare that "the White House is being held hostage by environmental extremists who are trying to block important jobs and important energy [i.e. oil, coal, and natural gas]."

Is ascribing economic malfeasance to a broad cross-section of Americans really where Inhofe and Company want to go? Why wouldn't it suffice for the Republican lawmakers to express their disagreement and just lay out their documented justification? Take the high road like their opponents who stick to the science and characterize global warming deniers as misguided, not unhinged.

The explanation for Inhofe and Company resorting to incendiary rhetoric undoubtedly lies in their lack of confidence they can prevail without distracting the public.

Trouble is that their diversion hasn't worked, at least with the likes of the granny from Oklahoma.