Not a great start

One of the hallmarks of our Republican administration was their ability to cast away good science when it interfered with the things they wished to believe. The last thing we need is the Democratic mirror image of exactly that same principle. And that’s why I sincerely hope it’s someone’s idea of a bad joke that Obama is considering Robert Kennedy Jr. as head of the Environmental Protection Agency.

This is the guy who came out against a wind farm way the hell off the coast of Nantucket at the behest of his uncle Ted, because the rich liberals there thought it obstructed their view. It was NIMBYism taken to ludicrous extremes.

Much, much worse, however, was the article he wrote for Rolling Stone magazine, asserting that autism was being caused by vaccinations and the government was covering everything up. The article was seized on at the time by both sides of the blogosphere as dishonest and ignorant, and has since been debunked time and again by scientists who can see no correlation between vaccines and autism in children. This, alas, has not stopped Kennedy from continuing to spout conspiracy theories.

And now we turn to Respectful Indolence:

So what? You say. The Head of the EPA doesn’t have anything to do with vaccines. True enough. But RFK, Jr. has demonstrated himself on this issue not only to be prone to dubious science, but to have become a true believer in one of the most outrageous and dangerous forms of pseudoscience out there: antivaccinationism, or vaccine rejectionism. If you’re trying to build an administration ostensibly devoted to using the best science as the basis for public policy, and the EPA is one agency where that is incredibly important, you do not want someone who is so prone to pseudoscience and promoting misinformation not just when it comes to mercury in vaccines, but when it comes to the very area where he claims expertise, the environment, where he blames Katrina on global warming, for instance (not even Al Gore does that). Indeed, his assaults on fact and science are legendary, right up to describing the small Cuyahoga River fire (which lasted only 30 minutes and was never caught on film) as “exploding in colossal infernos.” Apparently, any “science” is good to him, as long as it appears to support his agenda.

That’s exactly the kind of attitude I thought we were seeking to purge from our government with this past election. It would be a terrible mistake for Obama to toss out the Republican’s propensity for willful ignorance, only to replace it with a Democratic version.

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  1. Posted November 6, 2008 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    I expected “same crap; different name” from the congress. I had honestly (and somewhat excitedly) voted for Obama expecting that he would learn from the mistakes of the last 8 years and place competent people in positions of power. Bush’s worst excesses were about putting political loyalists in places they had no business being. Does Obama not remember what happened in Katrina? Kennedy is the last person I’d want in charge of the EPA. The DOE or Dept of Interior would be bad for him as well. But head of the EPA? That’s like the worst case possible scenario.


  2. Posted November 6, 2008 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    I wouldn’t be at all surprised that Obama is considering him. But considering someone is a huge step from tapping them — or even from their making the short list.

    So let’s save our righteous ire for if/when Kennedy does make that short list. But I’ve come to accept that there is a lot more to cabinet posts than “who would be best.” But there’s a line, and yeah, Kennedy’s on the other side of it.


One Trackback

  1. […] More: Orac returns with a lengthy, devastating and link-rich second post; Mike Dunford/Questionable Authority (”The politicization of science is bad no matter who does it. It wasn’t just bad when the Republicans were involved. It will be just as bad if it’s a Democrat doing it.”); Eric Berlin (”hope it’s someone’s idea of a bad joke”). […]


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