The Obama Amnesia afflicting our friends on the Left is particularly acute when it comes to the Environmental Protection Agency. It is as if lead-contamination oozed into our water supply; toxic chemicals that were deemed safe for eight years randomly started killing unsuspecting Americans; and algae blooms from agricultural run-off began popping up in the Great Lakes the very moment Donald Trump took the oath of office on January 20, 2017.
Notoriously profligate Democratic lawmakers who are now suffering from Obama Amnesia are suddenly distraught over allegedly inappropriate expenditures at the EPA. The use of tax dollars to boost the salaries of top staffers or to upgrade official vehicles now keeps these newly frugal stewards of public funds awake at night.
Obama Amnesia was on full display last week during two congressional hearings featuring EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. When the former Oklahoma attorney general took the helm of the EPA last year, he inherited a bloated, political, secretive, and unaccountable agency whose previous administrators’ misconduct was regularly overlooked by the media.
Nobody Cared About Gina McCarthy
Despite a number of scandals, there were no calls by theNew York Times editorial board for Obama EPA chief Gina McCarthy to resign, even after her agency caused the Gold King Mine spill (pictured above), an environmental catastrophe for which she refused to take responsibility.
When her agency was caught breaking the law for its illicit use of social media, or as Congress threatened to impeach her for perjury, no major newspaper demanded that McCarthy step down. While Obama’s EPA refused to ban allegedly dangerous chemicals such as methylene chloride or chlorpyrifos for years, the media and Democratic lawmakers refrained from accusing his administrators of poisoning children or killing people. After EPA employees were caught downloading porn, including child pornography, and McCarthy ignored or excused other egregious misconduct on her watch, it was crickets from our newfound EPA watchdogs in the elite media.
No such niceties have been extended to Pruitt, however. Quite the opposite, in fact. News reporters and editorial boards are partnering with environmental activists, the scientific establishment, and Democratic lawmakers to undertake a nonstop assault against Pruitt, from raising legitimate concerns about travel costs (although even these are completely in line with those of his predecessors) to reporting on the inane, such as what type of house he owned in Oklahoma in 2004.
As of April 28, the Times has posted 122 articles about—or at least mentioning—Pruitt since the first of the month. That’s 122 articles in 28 days. It’s very likely that within a 30-day window, the paper will exceed the number of articles it published about Gina McCarthy—125—over a three-and-a-half year period. The Washington Post has run more than 300 articles, columns, and editorials about Pruitt in the past two months.
From SOP to Scandal
Pruitt is the subject of several investigations—initiated by Democrats—for what has long been standard operating procedure in Washington: Juicing raises for loyal aides, overspending on office perks, and favoring special interests tied to a common political agenda. All of these are now sources of outrage for Obama Amnesiacs.
Pruitt has been Trump’s most effective cabinet member and is applauded by the Republican base for reforming one of Washington’s most despised bureaucracies. He has dismantled Obama’s costly, burdensome, and unscientific climate change agenda; cut regulations; and exposed the politically-motivated scientists and bureaucrats who long controlled the agency. For this, and not because they actually care about any of the alleged fluffing of budgets, the Left wants his scalp.
On Capitol Hill last Thursday, several Democratic lawmakers demanded that Pruitt resign or be fired by the president. Without any sense of irony, Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) told Pruitt he “has brought secrecy, conflicts of interest, and scandal to the EPA. In any other administration, Republican or Democrat, you’d be long gone by now. You are unfit to hold public office and undeserving of the public trust. Every indication we have is that you really should resign.” He further called Pruitt “an embarrassment to President Trump” and said if he were president, “I wouldn’t want your help, I would just get rid of you.” (Everyone clap that there is no President Pallone.)
But those were mere pleasantries compared with what came next. Pallone suggested Pruitt was responsible for the deaths of two men who used paint strippers containing methylene chloride. Although the chemical has been blamed for allegedly killing dozens of people before Trump became president, Pallone despicably labeled Pruitt a killer for not yet banning the substance. Pallone recognized a man in attendance at the hearing whose brother died after using paint stripper: “Mr. Pruitt, your deregulatory agenda costs lives. Real people with names, with mothers, with brothers. You have the power to finalize the ban on methylene chloride now and prevent more deaths, but you haven’t done it. Do you have anything to say to these families?”
Gee, and people wonder why Pruitt needs a heavy security detail.
Eleventh-Hour Rules Run Amok
But here’s a little backstory on how the Obama Administration set-up Trump’s incoming EPA. On January 19, 2017—the day before Trump was sworn in—McCarthy issued a proposed rule to ban nearly all uses of methylene chloride. Despite having eight years to prohibit the manufacture, distribution or importation of this purportedly deadly chemical, Obama’s EPA waited until its final hours to act. (Just one among dozens of costly rules and regulations Obama imposed during the waning months of his presidency.) Although the EPA is still currently considering whether to ban methylene chloride, Pruitt’s foes continue to misrepresent his agency’s handling of the review process so they can call him a murderer.
The same political chicanery was applied to chlorpyrifos, a pesticide commonly used in agriculture. After years of ignoring—then fighting in court—a petition filed by environmental groups to ban chlorpyrifos, Obama’s EPA was forced to act in 2015 after a federal court ruled the agency’s delay was “egregious and warrants mandamus relief.” The agency then issued a proposed rule to prohibit chlorpyrifos residue on food, but continued fighting a final ban due to unconvincing research that the pesticide posed a threat to human health.
That magically changed on November 10, 2016, when the EPA “modified” its scientific mooring for the 2015 rule. The revised analysis suddenly raised concerns about chlorpyrifos in drinking water and food crops, setting the stage for the full ban it had fought for nearly eight years. In March 2017, Pruitt denied the original petition seeking to ban the pesticide and accused the previous administration of cherry-picking data. “The public record lays out serious scientific concerns and substantive process gaps in the proposal. Reliable data, overwhelming in both quantity and quality, contradicts the reliance on—and misapplication of—studies to establish the end points and conclusions used to rationalize the proposal.”
That move helped the media portray Pruitt as a monster who wants to poison children. New York Times columnist Nick Kristof—always an easy mark for anti-industry pseudoscience—cited shoddy research tying the pesticide to lower IQs in children, then accused Trump and Pruitt of damaging kids’ brains by not banning it. Kristof wrote that the pair has been “tragically effective at dismantling environmental and health regulations, so that Trump’s most enduring legacy may be cancer, infertility and diminished I.Q.s for decades to come.” (Just think of how many brains Obama and McCarthy damaged in eight years!)
But it wasn’t just dangerous chemicals that had Obama Amnesiacs in a huff last week. Democrats were outraged at Pruitt’s spending habits, even before he became EPA chief. Rep. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.) lamented Pruitt’s “lack of respect for American taxpayers.” (Tonko earned an “F” from the National Taxpayer Union in 2016 and just a 5 percent score from Club for Growth.) Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), whose husband went to jail in 2006 for bank fraud, blasted Pruitt for purchasing a new vehicle with tax dollars. “Isn’t it true that you upgraded from a Chevy Tahoe to a Chevy Suburban with leather interior and other luxury features?” (Schakowsky also has a 5 percent rating from the Club for Growth and an F” from NTU. ) The congresswoman then asked Pruitt why he upgraded from a sedan to a “big, black luxury SUV” when he was Oklahoma attorney general.
Fortunately, it looks like Pruitt’s job is safe for now and the president won’t bend to the Pruitt Lynch Mob. But no doubt the Obama Amnesiacs will keep trying and hope those of us who paid attention to the EPA before November 2016 succumb to amnesia, too.
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Photo credit: Brent Lewis/The Denver Post via Getty Images