Wall Street Journal editorial implies Energy Secretary Steven Chu should resign
Final line says, “Perhaps [he] will still do the honorable thing, if only for the sake of his reputation.”
November 16, 2011Published: November 16, 2011
By Steven T. Corneliussen
Revised 11/17/2011: George Will demands that Steven Chu resign
The supercommittee’s difficulties are not shocking. This is shocking: Amid a darkening fiscal crisis, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, whose department has become a huge and incompetent venture capital fund, has not resigned as penance for complicity in the administration’s “green graft” and crony capitalism.
Original post 11/16/2011: The 16 November Wall Street Journal contains the editorial “The president's venture capitalist: Steven Chu, Solyndra and the political allocation of capital.” Consider the mocking, and maybe threatening, tone of its opening paragraphs:
Lately Energy Secretary Steven Chu has been dismissing his Solyndra critics with mock apologies: “Hindsight is often said to be 20/20,” he said last week. “In this case I think some of the hindsight was 20/10, or even better—clairvoyant.” Ho ho ho. Maybe Mr. Chu will be more contrite when he pays a visit to the House Energy and Commerce Committee Thursday, but for now let’s step back and review the story of this fiasco.
Mr. Chu’s defense is particularly ironic because the self-proclaimed clairvoyants—make that carnival mind readers—actually inhabit the White House. The Solyndra economic model is that government knows how to allocate the national wealth better than private investors do, with Mr. Chu among the oracles who saw something in the now-bankrupt solar panel maker that capital markets never did. To adapt Rick Perry, oops.
The editors stop to comment on Chu’s qualifications: “President Obama hired Mr. Chu as his chief venture capitalist, though his 1997 Nobel Prize in physics and work on climate change as the director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory suggested no special expertise in, say, financing start-ups.”
They also speculate on the possible role of political connections, but then add, “This deserves scrutiny but it misses the larger point: Every green energy firm has some kind of political connection, given that the entire industry is a creation of the government.”
(Concerning political connections, it seems worth noting parenthetically that on 15 November, the Washington Post placed online an article charging that the Obama administration asked Solyndra “to delay announcing it would lay off workers until after the hotly contested November 2010 midterm elections.”)
It seems worth adding that not long after the WSJ editorial appeared online on the evening of 15 November, the following ad hominem attack appeared as an online comment from a Roger Cohen who identifies himself as a physicist:
Fellow physicist Steve Chu was ill prepared for running a major government bureaucracy that is driven by political considerations and lacks the control systems of a large industrial organization. Raised in the rarified pure science atmosphere of the old Bell Laboratories and academia, and rewarded with a Nobel, one quickly acquires an arrogance that does not prepare one to listen to alternative views or to be alert to potential pitfalls. It shows.
The comment offers no evidence that the commenter is the physicist Roger Cohen who’s known in part for vigorously denying the climate-change consensus, or that he’s the Roger Cohen whose consensus-denying Wall Street Journal letter was reported in September in this column.
Steven T. Corneliussen, a media analyst for the American Institute of Physics, monitors three national newspapers, the weeklies Nature and Science, and occasionally other publications. His reports to AIP are collected each Friday for "Science and the media." He has published op-eds in the Washington Post and other newspapers, has written for NASA's history program, and is a science writer at a particle-accelerator laboratory.