Why Editorials Mean Nothing in the Age of Bush

Well, I exaggerate. A little. Not much. Here’s an example: The New York Times editorializing against the latest outrage from the Bush administration, their attempt to kill the Endangered Species Act:

The Bush administration has never masked its distaste for most
environmental laws or its ambitions to thwart Congress’s will. Now in
its waning months, it is trying to undermine the Endangered Species Act.

All true, all very polite, and an utterly bloodless statement aimed against an action drenched in the blood of innocents. ((The Los Angeles Times did a little better, by attacking the cynicism of the Bush administration’s action in their editorial.)

Note in contrast the genuine heat in the words  of veteran Democratic Congressman John Dingell, who for his advocacy of Detroit would not be considered an environmentalist by most, but nonetheless still is capable of outrage:

"We must always be concerned when an
Administration seeks to rewrite the rules months before they leave
office. This is especially true for the Bush Administration – which has
a long and dedicated history of arrogant behavior in its dealings with
Congress, a coequal branch of government – and which has consistently
shown its hostility to our cornerstone conservation laws. Make no
mistake, there is a reason they chose to do this in August when
Congress is out of session and Members are in their districts working.

"I wrote the Endangered Species Act and seeing it signed
into law was among my proudest moments as a Member of Congress. The
changes sought by the Bush Administration would seriously weaken the
law, eliminating the requirement that scientists be the ones making
decisions regarding science, instead giving political hacks and
unsympathetic bureaucrats another opportunity to attack the scientific
community. It is remarkable that this bill, signed into law by Richard
M. Nixon and accepted for decades as a pillar of American conservation
would be destroyed by George W. Bush in the final months of his
Administration. It is most peculiar that a statute which has done so
much good should be now jeopardized by the stroke of a hostile
Presidential pen."

Next question: Does the Bush administration have the power to
institute this radical change in the law, or will it be foiled by
Congress or the courts? No one yet seems to have talked to the
experts at Fish and Wildlife, the EPA, or the legal folks at
Earthjustice — one of those stories someone, maybe me, should be
working on right now! Stay tuned…

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