The Solyndra mess, in Sophoclean tragic fashion, revealed these same requisite exemptions and penances. In 2010, a buoyant Obama visited the doomed plant to boast of government-generated green and homegrown jobs. By inference, Solyndra was just the sort of noble federally sponsored factory that the greedy private oil companies, non-union profit-hungry employers, and dastardly outsourcing CEOs just won’t build. The far wiser China and Germany subsidize green energy, so we must too. Case closed.
Once that huge moral superstructure went up, then no naysayers dared to look into the nitty-gritty mechanics down below, where some insider financiers and con artists were squeezing out of the taxpayers a $500 million loan without much intention of ever paying it back. The earthly laws of profit and loss, market demand and rationale, and the human tendency to connive to find profit were all to be superseded by Barack Obama’s ethereal appeals to help the unemployed and cool the planet.
In this world of liberal exemption, a suspect Dick Cheney conspires with an evil Halliburton; but liberal financiers who donated to Barack Obama to ensure progressive change can’t really want unwarranted insider profits from a Solyndra or a LightSquared. We are supposed to be outraged by recent lurid revelations that yokels like non-presidential candidate Sarah Palin supposedly long ago in her youth once tried coke; when Barack Obama confessed in print that he did so rather routinely, we automatically appreciated the angst of a sensitive soul coming of age in the course of his long odyssey to a progressive presidency. Sins are to be magnified or lessened depending on the larger perceived moral intentions of the sinner.
Liberal pundits are outraged that candidate Rick Perry was supposedly a dismal student from the evidence of his leaked undergraduate transcript. Yet they were weirdly reluctant to ask candidate Barack Obama what exactly were his grades at Columbia and Occidental — still unknown to the public. Grades from decades ago are absolutely necessary to deconstruct questionable Texas cowboys, but need not be produced to confirm the assumed straight A’s that earned Obama a scholarship to Harvard Law.
At some point, Barack Obama and those around him grasped that utopian rhetoric and progressive intentions made discordant facts irrelevant. They appreciated that they could do pretty much what they wished and could outsource the rationalization to enthralled intellectuals, academics, and activists, without worry of much media scrutiny. That they thereby helped to destroy the reputations of the bamboozled media was of no concern.
But in tragic fashion, such hubris ensured the present nemesis of Obama — and the loss of credibility among his media apologists. In short, it would have been odd if scandals like Solyndra had not followed from such liberal exemption — and odder still should no more surface.
— NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author most recently of the just-released The End of Sparta, a novel about ancient freedom.