Liberals Praise Bush Appointee

Here’s yet another reason why you should rely on more than just the New York Times [RSS] for daily news. If you read its account of Stephen Johnson’s nomination for EPA chief, you’ll get these statements from President Bush:

“His immediate task is to work with congress to pass my Clear Skies initiative.”


“Steve shares my conviction that we can improve the Earth while maintaining a vibrant and competitive economy.”

Later, reports the Times, Johnson returned the compliment: “[U]nder your leadership, we have made great strides in environmental protection.”

I fully admit that I’m somewhat of a novice when it comes to EPA politics. So, in putting these quotations together with the standard story on Bush nominations, which says that he’s bent on installing hacks throughout the government, I’m inclined to believe that Johnson is out to carry water — much to the chagrin of the Democratic Party.

But that’s apparently not the case. As Government Executive noted last year:

While Johnson has had conflicts with industry and environmentalists in the past, most sources familiar with him said he was generally not a controversial figure and had a solid reputation inside the agency and with stakeholders.

More notably, according to Knight Ridder, “his selection won bipartisan praise”:

He’s made so many friends in his tenure that Republicans and Democrats, industry and environmental groups all claim him for their side.

“His selection suggests to me that the Bush administration is trying to depoliticize to some extent environmental policy, which may in fact produce better results going forward,” said Dan Esty, the director of Yale University’s Center for Environmental Law and Policy. “We have gotten ourselves into a deep partisan divide here. And the attempt to put into place a top guy who really comes from the more nonpolitical bureaucracy may be an attempt to get beyond that.”

Esty, a critic of the Bush administration who worked for the president’s father, former President George Bush, called Johnson “the ultimate technocrat, with a way of bringing thoughtful, careful analysis to bear in trying to understand and solve hard problems.”

Here’s the money passage, with emphasis added:

The praise was strongest from Democrats, former Clinton officials and environmental activists. The Environmental Working Group called it “a spectacularly good appointment.”

“I promoted Steve several times,” Clinton EPA Administrator Carol Browner said. “Steve was very, very critical and instrumental in all the work we did to ban and limit the use of organophosphates (pesticides) and was willing to take on the chemical companies.”

“I’m a little surprised given the work he did with us that the White House would find him acceptable,” Browner said.

Set aside discussions of ideological bias for a moment. Shouldn’t a renowned paper like the Times have provided this kind of important context? If you’re getting bipartisan consensus of such magnitude, shouldn’t it be the main theme of your story?

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Robert Garcia Tagorda
About Robert Garcia Tagorda
Robert blogged prolifically at OTB from November 2004 to August 2005, when career demands took him in a different direction. He graduated summa cum laude from Claremont McKenna College with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics and earned his Master in Public Policy from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.


  1. notherbob2 says:

    Certainly one of the reasons to read a newspaper is to become informed. From this information, the reader can then make a decision as to how to vote. Civics 101. When stories like this are freely available, one can assume that liberals read them. Therefore, one can assume that they KNOW that the NYT does not properly inform them and is instead a biased promoter of left wing propaganda. Why would otherwise intelligent persons use Rent-a-Brain and turn themselves into puppet-voters? That is what liberals who make the NYT and the network news their only source of news are doing. They are the Stepford wives of American politics; and they volunteer for the job.