Bad Idea Jeans: John Bryson as Commerce Secretary

by William Yeatman on July 14, 2011

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Indulge me for a moment, and imagine if an American president nominated the CEO of ExxonMobil to head the Environmental Protection Agency. Do you think that would fly with the public? I doubt it. Regardless of the nominee’s beliefs on environmental policy, it looks wrong. Yet the flip side also holds true: A rainbow warrior is an incongruous choice to head the Commerce Department. Again, it simply doesn’t look right.

This is why I’m amazed that President Barack Obama nominated John Bryson, co-founder of the environmental special interest Natural Resources Defense Council, to be the Secretary of Commerce.  Mr. Bryson isn’t merely a discordant nomination; his record suggests he’s an awful one. Environmentalist lawyers, such as the ones employed by the NRDC, are a clear and present danger to job creation. At every turn, they litigate to stop employment opportunities that would benefit  human beings, in order to protect insects, or minnows, or America’s supposed population of pregnant, subsistence fisherwomen. For environmental extremists like John Bryson, economic development—the purpose of the Commerce Department—takes a backseat to critters and phantom communities.

For having co-founded an anti-commerce organization, Mr. Bryson is an unacceptable choice to lead the Commerce Department. Yet there’s more! He was also present at the creation of this nation’s worst energy policies. For three decades, California has been America’s incubator of bad ideas on energy. (To get an idea of what I mean, see this American Spectator article I co-wrote with my colleague Jeremy Lott.) In so doing, the Golden State has chased away its once formidable manufacturing sector. From 1979 to 1982, Mr. Bryson served as president of the California Public Utilities Commission. In this capacity, he oversaw the implementation of then (and now) Governor Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown’s awful anti-energy agenda. This period was a fulcrum for California, during which the state embarked down the unfortunate road from prosperity to its current economic woes. Mr. Bryson was a key player in facilitating this decline.

Thankfully, there’s a member of Congress galvanizing opposition to Mr. Bryson’s nomination. Two days ago, at a press conference co-sponsored by Freedom Action and the American Conservative Union, Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.) announced that he would put a hold on John Bryson. See video of the event here. “Holds” are a loosely defined senatorial prerogative. Theoretically, a lone senator could hinder indefinitely a presidential nominee (subject to the Senate’s approval) from gaining office. In practice, however, such maneuvers from a member of the minority party become a political bargaining chip for the Senate majority leader, who can use his or her power to make life difficult for the senator performing the hold, and also his allies. So it is imperative that Sen. Inhofe gains support. Every politician who gives priority to job creation over environmental extremism should join with Senator Inhofe, and oppose the outrageous nomination of John Bryson to be Commerce Secretary.

Ron Kilmartin July 15, 2011 at 11:40 pm

The Bryson appointment to Commerce where he will have a free reign to wreck further NRDC havoc on American free enterprise fits well into the Obama version of the Cloward-Piven strategy to bring America down. He will be an important stepping stone to the Obama socialist utopia. I wish Senator Imhofe well in putting a hold on this bird.

Goodyearman July 31, 2011 at 4:54 pm

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