Here’s the lead of the day (so far):
Energy Secretary Steven Chu was preparing to speak at a black-tie gala this month, and the hundreds of people milling about there were busy gabbing. Seeking to quiet the din, Chu called out “Solyndra, Solyndra, Solyndra,” and people stopped to listen.
He didn’t mention the company again.
Well, that’s one way to get the floor at a black-tie gala. Still, isn’t it just a bit disturbing that Secretary Chu—who pushed the $535 million federal loan for the already-failing Solyndra—apparently doesn’t quite understand the gravity of the matter. Mr. Chu, you blew half billion dollars of taxpayer money.
In an equally infuriating passage in the same story, reporter Steven Mufson adopts what has become the meme in the Chu case:
For Chu, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, it has been a demonstration that the laws of politics are more important in Washington than the laws of physics.
Ah, yes, poor Secretary Chu–too brilliant to stoop to our grubby political world!
What Chu didn’t understand wasn’t the laws of politics but that investing other people’s money on your pet project will, should the project prove a disaster of epic proportions, bring public scrutiny—as well it should. Chu made the loan despite signals that Solyndra was a dud, but the project played to his ideological biases.
Mufson’s profile of Chu is quite interesting:
Chu believes that the debates over whether climate change is caused by human beings is “reminiscent” of the discussions of tobacco in the 1950s and 1960s; he regards cap and trade as a non-partisan issue, and he has long been a supporter of projects that reduce greenhouse gas.
All of this is fine and dandy—Secretary Chu is entitled to all these beliefs.
What is not fine and dandy is that there is a vast pot of government money out there just waiting for well-meaning bureaucrats such as Mr. Chu to "invest" in projects that fit in with their ideologies.
If green projects are good—and many undoubtedly will turn out to be fine investments—private business will want in on them.
Meanwhile, something tells me that when Mr. Chu testifies about Solyndra before Congress, he is going to realize it’s no joke.