From the department of We have a story to tell and we're going to fit any facts that happen to come along into that story:
President Obama on Monday named two people to his cabinet who will be charged with making good on his threat to use the powers of the executive branch to tackle climate change and energy policy if Congress does not act quickly.That's from John Broder and Matthew Wald's NYT story about the new picks at Energy and EPA. Missing? What exactly there is about these appointments that sends that supposedly "unmistakable signal."
The appointments, which require Senate confirmation, send an unmistakable signal that the president intends to mount a multifaceted campaign in his second term to tackle climate change by using all the executive branch tools at his disposal.
Because to me, it sure looks a lot more like the president, you know, filling two cabinet-level vacancies. Which presidents do. Regardless of whether they're going to "mount a multifaceted campaign" or not.
Later in the article, we get a quote from the president that has nothing to do with "all the executive branch tools at his disposal." We get a quote from an expert who says the appointments signal policy continuity with the people they're replacing, but both nominees are well-suited to working the bureaucracy and working with Congress. We learn that Gina McCarthy, the EPA nominee, is an expert in environmental regulation. And we are told that climate is an area in which the Obama Administration has relatively more ability to move ahead without Congress than some other issues.
But nothing -- nothing at all -- about why these particular two nominees signal anything at all about what the president intends. Nothing to back up the claim that some sort of signal is being sent. Unless, that is, we're to compare "nominates somebody" with "leaves the position vacant indefinitely." Which is a really strange standard.