The moment President Trump accepted Scott Pruitt’s resignation from the EPA, the knives were out for the man who will take over for him, Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler.
But the attacks say more about the myopia of the media than they do about the man they seek to vilify.
To spare you skipping to the 27th paragraph of most the 32 million stories that come up when you Google “Andrew Wheeler,” here’s the man’s record:
Wheeler served in the EPA in the Clinton years and was awarded the agency’s Bronze Medal for Commendable Service three times – once in 1993 and twice more in 1994. The award is given for “significant service or achievements in support of the Agency’s mission” and “outstanding accomplishments in supervision and leadership.”
Wheeler also served in the legislative branch, as chief counsel and staff director for the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. National Journal magazine – hardly an alt-right screed sheet – named him one of the Top Congressional Staff Leaders in 2005, and he earned a John C. Stennis Congressional Staff Fellowship in the 106th Congress.
Wheeler also has experience in the real world outside government. He worked at a law firm specializing in the energy and natural resource field – a sector that the EPA regulates.
A reasonable person would conclude his experience in and out of government qualifies Andrew Wheeler for the job at the EPA. (The Senate agrees – it confirmed him as deputy chief at the agency.)
But then one would have to conclude that the Washington press corps is not made up of reasonable people.
The major media coverage of Andrew Wheeler has been a grab bag of insinuation, selective facts and hidden assumptions.
Nine out of 10 headlines describe Wheeler as a “former coal lobbyist,” inferring “that’s all you really need to know.” (Rarely if ever is there a mention of his meritorious service in the executive branch or the Senate.)
We are to believe that Andrew Wheeler’s experience representing the coal industry in its dealings with a federal government that has the power to make or break said industry is a disqualification.
By that reasoning, would the lawyer for environmental groups suing the coal industry also be disqualified? Ask the Washington Post, which glowingly described Bill Clinton’s candidate for EPA administrator as “a self-proclaimed environmentalist” with “the soul of an activist.” No “concern” about potential bias on her part.
That gets us to the hidden conceit in the major media’s sneering and smearing coverage of President Trump’s Cabinet selections.
The assumption is that anyone with a career in business, with hands-on knowledge of an industry impacted by government regulation (which is any industry) is guilty of a fatal conflict of interest and cannot serve in government.
The end point of such reasoning, though never openly stated, is that only those who’ve spent their entire life and career in the government (or perhaps in rare cases, academia) are qualified to serve in the government. So much for a government of the people, by the people and for the people.
President Trump promised to end the Obama administration’s globalist environmental extremism, withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord and dial back the regulatory overreach that fortifies the market position of the big corporatist players and crushes the independent operator.
He has every right to choose someone who will execute his agenda.
Andrew Wheeler is that man, and he will be an excellent chief of the Environmental Protection Agency.