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Opening Arguments

Picking on the picks

Which is worse, a nominee for secretary of education who gives thanks to those "who gave my sister and I . . ." or a nominee for secretary of treasury who neglected to pay all his taxes? The former, I'd suggest, but not because of the "he's too big to fail" defense some are offering for Tim Geithner:

But with the economy so fragile, many senators are loath to rattle financial markets by rejecting someone with Mr. Geithner's qualifications and international respect. By late Wednesday, Republicans as well as Democrats were predicting he would survive the controversy and be confirmed next week.

I'm the first to admit that sometimes I can be a grammar snob. Yes, there can be grammar fluidity, and there is a difference between formal and informal grammar, but there is also such a thing as the basics, and the concept of subject and object pronouns qualifies. (This is an invitation, I know, to have everything I've ever written picked over for outrageous errors, but that's OK. I'm not going to be education secretary.)

We can argue, as some are, whether Geithner made an honest mistake or displayed a disqualifying character flaw. But one thing the incident does show is how indecently complicated the tax code is -- a fact that supports either judgment about Geither. It is so complicated that even very smart people can make mistakes and even moderately devious people can find a way to play it. This episdode clearly makes the case for tax-code simplification, and perhaps Mr. Geither will now be a proponent of change.

Anyway, THE WORST pick by Obama so far is John Holdren as his Assistant to the President for Science and Technology. The left accuses the right of being "anti-science," and often that is the case. When science might interfere with religion, the tendency on the right sometimes is to just ignore the science. But the left treats science no better. Science is about testing hypotheses again and again, not saying the final proof has been found that can never be disagreed with, as the left so often does, most notoriously with global warming. Holdren frequently worked with Paul "We all going to die!" Ehrlich and keeps making dire predictions no many how many of his old ones turn out to be silly. And he doesn't want to hear any dissent from tiny minority of cranks he says are ignorning global warming. Let's get away from replacing science with faith -- fine. But let's not turn science into a faith.


Fri, 01/16/2009 - 12:24am

I don't remember much about triple dog dares, but the temperature outside certainly qualifies as a "three dog night."