I agree with ScienceBloglings Orac and Mike Dunford: Robert Kennedy Jr. shouldn’t be in an Obama cabinet.
As far I’m concerned, Kennedy’s bullshit about thimerisol is every bit as ridiculous as creationism, except that it’s far more murderous. While I don’t think that would be an issue that he would deal with at Interior (but might be at EPA), irrationalism has no place in a Democratic administration. Could we wait a few months before we cede the intellectual highground? Related to this, Mike has a good suggestion:
If we want to effectively oppose this nomination, we need to bring in the entire scientific community. And we need to do it now. If the appointment is announced, it’s a done deal. There aren’t a lot of Democrats out there who are going to want to hand Obama an embarrassing public defeat on a high profile nomination right out the bat, and that number takes a dramatic drop when doing so would also involve simultaneously pissing off the Kennedys and Clintons.
So if you want to work to try and head off this potential problem, I’d suggest starting soon. One thing that might help is if you bring the issue to the attention of three or four people you know who would be interested in this, but who don’t read blogs. Have them bring in more of their friends.
Try to get them to get in touch with anyone they know who is involved in one of the major scientific organizations, or who is an editor for a major publication, or has political contacts. Let’s try to get those folks to put out the word that a Kennedy appointment to the EPA will cause problems down the road.
What? You didn’t think the work was done with the election, did you? OK, onto Summers as Treasury Secretary. Never mind that Summers, as president of Harvard, had a little ‘boys are smarter than girls’ eruption. His record isn’t that good:
Summers was one of the key proponents of the banking deregulation of 1999 that led to the current financial crisis. In addition, Larry Summers has argued that women are innately less gifted in science than men, that ‘Africa is Underpolluted’, that child sweatshop work in Asia is sometimes justified, and that job destroying trade agreements are good for America.
People get stuff wrong all the time. That’s not bad. But if you got the big stuff wrong, repeatedly, while being warned against it, you shouldn’t be rewarded with a promotion.
But there’s something else too. A while ago, the NY Times magazine profiled Summers, and he seems like a real asshole. The problem isn’t just that Congress won’t like him, but that I don’t trust his instincts. Ultimately, when the hammer drops, I don’t think he’ll side with middle class Americans. Sure, he’ll talk about the economy, but I don’t think that means people’s lives to Summers. There’s an anti-Summers petition here.
Instead, I like Sheila Bair, currently head of FDIC at Treasury. Not only does she seem to give a damn about, well, people, but she had the courage to do what she could to make the bailout work for people who have the misfortune of not being CEOs:
…one of the most obviously qualified candidates is a woman: Sheila Bair, the current Chairperson the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).
During ordinary times, the FDIC is a relative backwater, having to deal with minor policy tweaks or the failure of a small bank here or there. However, the housing crash has put the FDIC at center stage. Ms. Bair has been forced to arrange the takeover or merger of many of the country’s largest banks, including Wachovia, Washington Mutual, and IndyMac. The FDIC has been a key actor in containing the credit crisis.
In this process, Bair has shown a willingness to both confront the big Wall Street banks and to stand up for homeowners. When the FDIC took over IndyMac, one of the mass market subprime lenders, Bair ordered a moratorium on foreclosures on the mortgages held by the bank. She announced that the FDIC would arrange write-downs that allowed homeowners to stay in their home wherever possible. Bair has since been vocal in her criticisms of other banks for being unwilling to take the same steps.
Bair is a Republican, but in the world of Big Finance it is not clear that party affiliation makes much difference. Most of the public will probably care more about the fact that she has managed to steer clear of the Wall Street cesspool than whether she is a Democrat or Republican.
And she’s a Republican, which will make Compulsive Centrist Disorder sufferer David Broder cream his pants.
Erm, maybe that’s not such a good suggestion….