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Do-nothing Whitman disses Nobelist Steven Chu

You might think someone who had utterly failed in his or her job might have learned enough humility to avoid criticizing others attempting a similar job. But not Bush’s first EPA administrator, Christie Todd Whitman, who told MSNBC:

As for Steven Chu, Obama’s apparent choice to head up the Energy Department, Whitman expressed concerns over his management experience.

“He’s certainly going to know how to analyze the issues,” she said. “He’s going to know the feasibility as he looks at them from a scientific point of view. But it’s going to be the ‘Can they be implemented?’ part of it that will be a challenge for him.

“It’s a big leap from the academic world to the administrative world.”

Let’s see. Whitman’s effort to get Bush to keep his campaign promise for regulating greenhouse gas emissions was crushed in a humiliating fashion by Dick Cheney (see here) — and Cheney in general ran circles around her on all environmental matters (see here), even though she presumably had lots of administrative experience as New Jersey Governor.

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And she has the gall to diss a Nobel Prize winner who isn’t even in the “academic world.” He has been running a national laboratory that is actually part of the DOE family. So he has been in the administrative world for many years now.

Plus he has a friggin’ Nobel Prize, and not for theoretical work, but for experimental physics. Since then, he has been focused on organizing team-based applied research to address the climate problem.

Somehow, I think he’ll be more successful than she was (see “A Nobelist for Energy Secretary who gets both climate and energy efficiency?”).

Also, I’ll bet he won’t resign in failure after only two years in the job. And I’ll be that a federal judge will never find Chu

guilty of making “’misleading statements of safety’ about the air quality near the World Trade Center in the days after the Sept. 11 attack.” The judge further found that Whitman “may have put the public in danger.”

I’ll also bet that when Chu leaves government he won’t immediately found a lobbying firm and take on as the first client:

FMC Corporation, “a chemical company negotiating with the EPA over the cleanup of arsenic-contaminated soil at a factory near Buffalo, N.Y.” In a May 2005 interview, Whitman said she had not worked directly with FMC, but would likely advise them on “how to improve their image” and gain “access to the people they need to speak to.” FMC “is responsible for 136 Superfund sites across the country … and has been subject to 47 EPA enforcement actions.”

So, again, Christie, maybe you should keep your prejudgments about other people’s competence to hold Cabinet positions to yourself.

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I’d tell MSNBC to find a more successful Bush Cabinet-level appointee to interview, but I’m not sure that’s possible.