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Secretaries Gone Wild
The Obama cabinet lacks experience and follows its own rules.

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and Energy Secretary Steven Chu

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Victor Davis Hanson

Attorney General Eric Holder dropped charges against the New Black Panther Party for voter intimidation. That may explain why he said nothing when the same group put out a dead-or-alive bounty poster on George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin shooting case. Holder’s department is suing the state of Arizona for passing a law to enforce the largely unenforced federal immigration law. Holder suggested that the Arizona law was racially inspired even as he admitted that he had never read it. Holder has praised the race-baiting Al Sharpton for his “partnership” and called the country “cowards” for not holding a national conversation on race on his terms. The attorney general has referred to African-Americans as “my people,” and he has characterized congressional oversight of his office’s failure to rein in the Fast and Furious scandal as racially motivated attacks on himself.

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Labor Secretary Hilda Solis just tried — and failed — to draft a proposal prohibiting kids under 18 from working “in the storing, marketing and transporting of farm product raw materials,” even on family farms. And she wanted to turn over some farm-training programs now run by the Future Farmers of America and 4-H to the government. Most Americans raised on a farm believe that the times spent doing chores with their parents, siblings, and neighbors were the most important and rewarding years of their lives.

Yet more worrisome, Solis is selective in her enforcement. She envisions new rules for businesses, but she first should have ensured that her family had followed old ones. When Solis was nominated, it was learned that her husband had several tax liens against his business, some of them 16 years old. And not long ago, Solis’s department posted a video advising illegal aliens to call her office if they felt they were treated unfairly by employers. Abusing workers is wrong, but then so is entering and residing in the United States illegally — as a cabinet official should know.

The common theme with these cabinet secretaries is loud, uninformed rhetoric; a lack of practical experience; a certain utopian zealotry — and an expectation that there are rules for government grandees and quite different ones for the rest of us.

— Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and the author most recently of The End of Sparta. You can reach him by e-mailing [email protected]



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