The early reviews are in on the new George W. Bush administration.
It has all the elements of the classic horror story: a predictable
plot, familiar villains and an unshakable sense of déjà
vu. On the following pages, we take a look at Bush's nominees and
appointments, a diverse cast of characters in every way but ideology.
Left to their own devices, this collection of unrepentant cold warriors,
anti-choice extremists, Wise-Use desperados and corporate shills
(as well as a couple of reasonable old-fashioned conservatives)
could make for a harrowing next four years.
Can the forces of good thwart this evil plan? Well, as
In These Times went to press, thousands of townspeople were taking
their torches to Washington to protest Dubya's inauguration, making
one thing clear: There will be no honeymoon!
Here are some of former Michigan Sen. Spencer Abraham's
qualifications for being energy secretary in the Bush administration:
He has tried three times to abolish the department. In last year's
election--which he lost--he received far more campaign contributions
from the auto industry than any other member of Congress, and nearly
tied for the most contributions from the energy and natural resources
But that's not all. An ardent defender of the auto
industry and internal combustion engine, he also has opposed higher
fuel-efficiency standards for cars, sport-utility vehicles and light
trucks. Last year he pushed for legislation to suspend federal taxes
on gasoline. He favors drilling for oil in the Arctic
National Wildlife Refuge. He also fought reform of the system
that had long permitted oil companies to pay minimal royalties for
oil from public lands. Against both Republican and Democratic politicians
in Nevada, he has pushed for storing nuclear waste in the Yucca
Just to be consistent, he also has voted against increased
funding for solar and renewable energy. After his nomination by
Bush, he talked about assuring the adequacy of supply of energy,
but said nothing about conservation or energy efficiency. And in
1995, he voted against increasing home heating assistance for low-income
families. His record on energy issues, as well as a wider range
of environmental policies, has earned him the lowest possible rating
from both the Sierra Club
and the League of Conservation Voters.
Abraham may serve as energy secretary, but clearly
Big Oil and its allies will be in charge. That is no surprise in
this administration: Bush, Cheney, National Security Adviser Condoleeza
Rice and Commerce Secretary Don Evans all have been executives or
directors in oil industry firms, and many of Bush's most important
contributors come from the oil industry. But despite Abraham's political-financial
ties to the industry, even his supporters acknowledge that he has
little experience with energy issues.
Although environmental organizations understandably
have focused their fire on Interior Secretary-nominee Gale Norton,
Abraham's views on environmental issues--such as protecting property
owners from federal regulatory "takings"--and his likely energy
policies pose a similar threat to the environment. But Abraham's
policies are likely to have destructive economic consequences as
well by keeping the United States on an unsustainable course, emphasizing
consumption of nonrenewable energy rather than higher-efficiency
and renewable sources of energy.