On May 13, Senate Republicans managed to block confirmation of David Hayes to the number two job in the Interior Department via filibuster, with three Democrats (Kennedy, Kerry, Mikulski) absent.
Hayes spent eight years in Interior under Bruce Babbitt, one strike against him, defended Secretary Ken Salazar’s decision to yank 70-odd gas leases in the Rockies to review them, that’s two, and then there was this quote, offered at the confirmation hearing by Senator John McCain:
"Like Ronald Reagan before him," Mr. Hayes once wrote, "President Bush has embraced the Western stereotype to the point of adopting some of its affectations, the boots, brush-clearing and get-the-government-off-our-backs bravado."
This annoyed Mr. McCain who, though he didn’t defend Mr. Bush, said that such criticism of Mr. Reagan was wrong, that Reagan did lots of good things for the environment.
Well now. Let’s see. Mr. Reagan appointed James Watt secretary of the interior, the late Anne Gorsuch to run the EPA, and countless other rogues and buffoons, some of whom (like some from Bush II) did time in prison for their governmental misdeeds.
In fact, one could make the case (as Paul Ehrlich recently did in an interview with me) that the Reagan administration remains the worst-ever environmental administration, having made the second Bush administration possible. To hold out the Reagan administration as laudable in the environmental arena is preposterous, and to block confirmation for Mr. Hayes based partly on his criticism of Reagan is unjust.
In the end, Harry Reid cast a ‘no’ vote on the Hayes nomination so that, under Senate rules, he can ask for reconsideration–which he will do as soon as he can herd enough pro-Hayes senators into the Senate to override the filibuster. Don’t you guys have more important things to do?