Man Without Qualities


Sunday, August 18, 2002


TIME Out of Joint!

TIME is now offering as a scoop its report that ENRON had some rather close relations with federal energy regulators during the Clinton-Gore administration:

Documents obtained by TIME show the energy giant enjoyed much closer ties with Clinton Administration regulators than was generally known. Long before Cheney's task force met with Enron officials and included their ideas in Bush's energy plan, Clinton's energy team was doing much the same thing. Drafting a 1995 plan to help facilitate cash flow and credit for energy producers, it asked for Enron's input—and listened. The staff was directed to "rework the proposal to take into account the specific comments and suggestions you made," Clinton Deputy Energy Secretary Bill White wrote an Enron official. Clinton officials also made efforts to help Enron get business overseas.

The story should hardly be surprising. Could anybody reasonably think that a meaningful, realistic energy policy could be developed by any administration without private consultation with the main commercial actors in the field?

Previously, many in the liberal media and some Democrats leveled criticism at Vice President Cheney for speaking to energy company executives in private in the course of developing the Bush administration's energy policy. I suppose the new "scoop" from TIME may susprise those media critics and Democrats - who may think government policy is extracted from consulting a crystal ball and without need for frank, expert conversations.

Of course, the federal government is supposed to help American business on a non-partisan basis. Perhaps the real "scoop" here is the thought of anyone in the Clinton administration actually helping an American company more associated with Republicans than Democrats?

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UPDATE: Rand Simberg wasn't surprised.


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