Solyndra and Its Defenders
The more green energy advocates either ignore or defend what happened with Solyndra, the worse they look.
3:35 PM, Sep 19, 2011 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
Over at Reason, Tim Cavanaugh observes that the few defenses being mounted for loaning failed solar company Solyndra $535 million in stimulus funds are really, really wanting. "Democrats appear to be backing into a strategy of vilifying the company (previous efforts to blame perfidious China and wish the story into a cornfield having failed)," he writes.
Elsewhere they're just ignoring the story. Former White House chief of staff, now Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel claims he didn't know anything about the loan, which is highly unlikely, and the fine folks at MSNBC are leaning forward so far that they're falling down on the job. Over the weekend, it was observed that in the over two weeks since the company went belly-up, taking all that taxpayer cash with them, there hasn't been one mention of the scandal on any of the cable news network's primetime programs.
Still, the award for most obdurate defender of Solyndra has to go to Time's Michael Grunwald. Grunwald, you might recall, was responsible for this less-than-prescient defense of the Solyndra loan this past July:
Oops. In fairness to Grunwald, he later served himself some crow -- see "Department of I’m an Idiot: A Solar Company Goes Bust." That was big of him, but as of a few days ago, he was still defending the loan program that responsible for this debacle. "I doubt the facts are going to matter much now that Republicans have latched onto the Solyndra solar 'scandal,' and even if they did matter, I’d be the wrong guy to defend the Obama administration (and some of the world’s top venture capitalists) for making the same honest mistake I made," he wrote last week.
Yes, he really did put scare quotes around the word "scandal." One of the President's major fundraisers, George Kaiser, was one of the biggest investors in the company, and the government restructured the loan earlier this year to prioritize the billionaire fundraiser over taxpayers -- but who says we have a "scandal" on our hands?
And speaking of whether the facts are going to matter much, here's a damning critique by Massimo Calabresi of Grunwald's latest Solyndra defense offered up elsewhere on Time's website:
Read the whole thing, especially the bit where Calabresi eviscerates Grunwald's laughable claim that wind power is now a bigger employer than coal. (Even if it were true, it is actually an indictment of green energy. "If it takes that many people to make the equipment to produce 0.7% of America’s energy needs, it’s totally unscalable," as Calabresi observes.)
I realize I'm picking on Grunwald a lot here, even if he did put himself out there. However, it should be noted he merely makes a convienent bad example, as a lot of the arguments he's making pass for conventional wisdom about green policies on the left. It's really just a shame that Grunwald and others defending green jobs policies are so delusional about what's going on here, both on the political and economic fronts.
At this point, anyone attempting to defend Solyndra looks like they're just lashing out. Today, Grunwald's spinning the whole "scandal" as a matter of GOP hypocrisy and I fully expect this argument to pick up steam as those worried about what Solyndra's demise means for the future of green energy continue to grasp at straws. If the charge is that the GOP is also guilty of crony capitalism involving similar programs, there's a good case to make -- but ultimately GOP hypocrisy doesn't mean that the White House shouldn't be held accountable for fast-tracking Solyndra $535 million from the public treasury after one of the major investors raised a bunch of cash for Obama's campaign.
If you really believe that supporting green jobs and other strict environmental policies are necessary, you should be outraged that this program was manipulated for political ends, as it will make it harder to muster any future government economic support for green jobs and green tech.
Grunwald and other sincere green energy supporters got played by lobbyists, rich businessmen and a White House full of Chicago politicians that thinks pay-to-play is the usual way of conducting government business. The more Grunwald and others alternately ignore or disingenuously fail to own up to what's really behind the Solyndra debacle, the worse they look.