Reality setting in at the White House?

Bush hugs treehugger, dumps Big Pharma


Andrew Leonard
May 30, 2006 10:24PM (UTC)

Wow. Leave town to go camping for a three-day weekend and when you come back, the Bush administration has transmogrified into a bunch of treehugging nature lovers willing to stick it to Big Pharma. This is going to require some recalibration of our reality-based worldview around here.

First, the widely reported part: Bush named Goldman-Sachs CEO Henry Paulson to be his third treasury secretary. Paulson also happens to be chairman of the Nature Conservancy, and has come under fire from ultra-whacko right-wing corporate propagandists for pushing Goldman-Sachs to be more environmentally responsible. It must be a bittersweet day for Steve Milloy and his nutty crew at the Free Enterprise Action Fund. They've been agitating through shareholder proposals that Paulson come clean on his "conflicts of interest" -- well, he's gone now, but bumped up a couple of notches, to a prominent Cabinet post!

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Alas, it is too much to expect that the Treasury Department will suddenly start pushing carbon offsets and lobbying for higher fuel economy standards, but still, at least someone halfway sane has joined the Bush team.

Less widely reported has been the news that the U.S. reversed years of carrying Big Pharma's water at the World Health Organization over the weekend and actually supported a resolution aimed at promoting research and development into treatments for diseases that afflict poor people. Jamie Love, director of the Consumer Project on Technology, is not a guy who holds back his fire when the topic is the alignment of the U.S. government with the interests of the pharmaceutical industry. But in his column for the Huffington Post, he writes about "the very positive role played by my own delegation, led by President Bush's godson, Bill Steiger, who is normally a hard liner. Steiger and other U.S. officials had been lobbied on this issue by some public health groups and members of Congress, and in the end, they took the side that will benefit the poor, despite very aggressive lobbying by pharmaceutical industry lobbyists. It was cool."

Brad DeLong says the appointment of Paulson is good news; that he is the kind of guy who won't sit by quietly when brain-dead economic policies are proposed. Jamie Love says the Bush stance on the new WHO resolution is good news for the world's poor.

How the World Works clearly needs to go camping more often.


Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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