Obama's Solyndra Complex - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Obama’s Solyndra Complex

Asked by ABC’s George Stephanopoulos if he regretted his promotion of the bankrupt solar panel maker Solyndra, Barack Obama said, “No, I don’t.” This cavalier answer provides yet another snapshot of the arrogance and ideological fixation that drives his presidency.

Clinging to an idea in defiance of reality defines the ideologue, a definition to which Obama conforms perfectly. No failure ever gives him pause. He can squander over a half billion dollars of taxpayer money and then use the occasion to brag about what he considers glorious forays into innovative risk-taking.

Most hack pols are reluctant to admit errors, but hack pols who also fancy themselves deep ideologues on the “right side of history” take open pride in them. Obama falls into this latter category. In his mind, the supposed purity of “green jobs” not only absolves him of any complicity in the Solyndra scandal but confers upon him a permanent halo. He has seen the future and it works.

To the extent that he acknowledged the Solyndra failure, he cast it as a minor misstep on the ascending road of progress. He claimed that the green jobs loan guarantee program is humming along nicely — “if you look at the overall portfolio of loan guarantees that have been provided, overall, it is doing well” — even as media outlets report that the program has yielded an anemic number of jobs and a growing list of busts.

In his past boosterism for green jobs, Obama has described them as an indisputable boon to the economy and environment and a safe bet on the future. But in the Stephanopoulos interview, he blithely acknowledged the risk of investing in them: “And what we always understood was that not every single business is going to succeed in clean energy.” Always understood? Did he inform the taxpayer of this?

A gross dereliction of duty dressed up as brave risk-taking has become the administration’s audacious new stance on Solyndra: at first, White House officials professed innocent ignorance of its risk to the taxpayer; now they acknowledge awareness of its wobbliness and dismiss such foreseen failures as the price of progress. “This program was established by Congress to support innovative, cutting-edge projects that by their nature carry a degree of risk,” Energy Department spokesman Damien LaVera said to the Washington Post.

“Hindsight is always 20/20,” said Obama to Stephanopoulos, even as his remarks indicated that he would gladly make the same mistake again. He offered no apology to taxpayers while promising more grand gambles with their money in the future: “… the fact of the matter is that if we don’t get behind clean energy, if we don’t get behind advanced battery manufacturing, if we’re not the ones who are creating the cars of the future, then we’re not going to be able to make stuff here in the United States of America. And one of the most important things that I want to do over the next several years is restore a sense that America can manufacture, but we don’t just purchase stuff from someplace else, but we’re also exporting to other countries.”

According to this ludicrous attempt at uplift, Obama is making America more competitive in the global marketplace one bankruptcy at a time. The idea that green jobs would ever prove beneficial to the economy was the first deception involved here, as foreshadowed by Obama’s appointment of Van Jones, a de facto Marxist, as his “green jobs czar.” Marxists have never been known for their job creation.

Nevertheless, Van Jones thrilled White House officials with his “green collar economy” drivel. The Valerie Jarretts listened with rapt attention as he urged environmentalists to move beyond just hyperactive conservation and regulation and explore new avenues of “investment” at taxpayer expense.

Solyndra has smudged the administration’s green collar and raised the prospect of a new crime category, green collar crime, while throwing light on a loan guarantee program that looks like something hatched in a socialist dystopia of Van Jones’s imagining. It has come out that former administration official Lawrence Summers, commenting on Solyndra’s shakiness, warned that government is a “crappy” venture capitalist, but such reservations were never going to register with Obama no matter how loudly expressed, as he was simply not interested in the normal workings of capitalism and was fixated upon green jobs at all costs.

Like a good socialist ideologue, he is impervious to reality and treats any setback as a reason to expand rather than end the cause. Last week, his Department of Energy shoveled out the door more money for green jobs. What will happen with those billions is anybody’s guess. But if the gallows humor contained in the leaked OMB memos about Solyndra are any indication of the fitness of future projects, taxpayers shouldn’t hold their breath. The Washington Post quotes an analyst saying to a colleague: “What’s terrifying is that after looking at some of the [loan guarantee projects] that came next, this one [Solyndra] started to look better.” 

George Neumayr
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George Neumayr, a senior editor at The American Spectator, is author most recently of The Biden Deception: Moderate, Opportunist, or the Democrats' Crypto-Socialist?
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