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.