Victory in the Battle of Solyndra

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
March 28 2012 1:48 PM

Victory in the Battle of Solyndra

Democrats are seriously grooving on a Darren Samuelsohn article, chained behind a Politico Pro paywall, about the slow fade of the Solyndra scandal. Here's the part Democrats like.

"Is there a criminal activity? Perhaps not," Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa told POLITICO after last Tuesday’s showdown with Energy Secretary Steven Chu. "Is there a political influence and connections? Perhaps not. Did they bend the rules for an agenda, an agenda not covered within the statute? Absolutely."

In so many words: "We got nothin'." No heads will roll. There's nothing to roll them with. But in the next graf, Samuelsohn gets at something important: Republicans have "turned Solyndra into a four-letter word, vilified the Nobel laureate Chu and left a popular DOE program in shambles."

Yes, and this was just the most visible part of a three-year effort to toxify the newest version of environmentalism—the "green jobs" version. It started by poking holes in the stimulus. It continued with the defenestration of Van Jones, a "green socialist" (according to critics, who could cite Jones's old confessions of radicalism). The Solyndra story, which is coming up on a year anniversary, hasn't shown up in polling yet. The last polls I see, from September, show opinions of "clean energy" pretty much unmoved. But those polls predate a multi-million dollar campaign by Americans for Prosperity that hyped the scandal, and a long Republican primary campaign where Solyndra was a shorthand for "liberal morons are throwing money at solar while your gas bill goes up." I'm not ready to call this a Republican win, but it's been a smart, concerted campaign against something that was wholly uncontroversial three years ago.

David Weigel, a former Slate politics reporter, is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics


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