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Monday, May 27th, 2019Last Update: Tuesday, May 7th, 2019 11:03:32 AM

The Curious Case of Scott Pruitt

By: Andrew K. Boyle

Its always fun to revisit stories from the recent past. Part of the responsibilities incumbent on being a regular feature in a paper such as this is to not forget what you have written in the past when breaking news makes pertinent thing you have said in the past.

In the Winter 2015 edition of the Oklahoma Constitution (shameless plug: back editions are available free online) I took the unpopular position of chiding Mr. Pruitt for his federal lawsuit against Colorado having to do with pot legalization. Reader emails and tweets confirmed my suspicion that taking on a rising political star on an unpopular issue would be, itself, wildly more unpopular. It was fun. I do enjoy the clash of ideas, and the readers of this paper never disappoint.

All that said, I stand by my criticism of Mr. Pruitt. Not just on the recreational pot issue; I stand by my larger assertion that the great temptation of GOP members is to “get-high” on freedom restricting legalism and moral preening. That the great escape for Republicans is try and redeem the evils of gigantic government by directing its energies at something of their own choosing. This fatal conceit, accepting the premise of modern progressivism and attempting to hijack it for something more noble, is ultimately the death of the Republican party. It is why people of my age, predestined to be the inheritors of the GOP because of our conservative-republican values, are highly embarrassed at that prospect and won’t be seen anywhere near establishment functions.

Nevertheless, I’ve always expected Scott Pruitt to have a very successful career. The overwhelming number of big “R” Republicans are either entirely comfortable with big-government types, or are willing to overlook big flaws like this in the name of pragmatism and winning elections.

I foresaw Scott Pruitt rocketing to the top of the GOP, but wow did it happen fast. Recent events, being Planet of the Apes level of farcical, have put in power Donald Trump, the vehicle through which Mr. Pruitt has become a national story. By nominating the Oklahoma Attorney General to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), President Trump has put Mr. Pruitt in the tactical position of being ground zero for the atomic rage of every erstwhile group of crazy that currently comprise a leftwing party which looks increasingly like ISIS – only much cooler about homosexuality.

The confirmation hearings for Mr. Pruitt were 1 part witch-hunt, 1 part fatwa, and entirely insane. The Democrats in Congress turned the traditional confirmation process into a Star-Chamber like event. It was entirely over the top, and that’s coming from someone who publicly doesn’t think much of the victim of the proceedings.

Mr. Pruitt has long held the position that the EPA has, for whatever its virtues may be, tragically overreached its mission and become a millstone around the collective necks of industry and enterprise in America. In representing a state whose economy is largely based upon various interactions with its own land, the EPA’s mission to restrict land from being used in any capacity outside of holding up a Starbucks is something of a non-starter. Oklahoma doesn’t work if oil remains in the ground, water cannot be made industrious, and farming becomes the great exploiter of the environment.

Mr. Pruitt’s reaction the the EPA’s overreach has mostly been to push back through legal means and seek policy resolutions that allow his state to continue to prosper. An entirely reasonable position, and one that puts him at odds with folks who bent the EPA to their will in such a way to set up the modern scenario. Opposition should be expected, but this is something more.

In seeking to alter slightly the existing framework of the EPA, Scott Pruitt has become a heretic in the church of global warming, climate change, climate disruption, climate craziness, climate-whatever-the-hell-they-call-their-cult-today. As such, he has been cast as an unhinged climate denier, unfit to hold any public office.

Two reactions: I argue that Mr. Pruitt is wrong on an issue, the other side argues that he is an apocalyptic madman, possibly one of the 4 horseman which doom the planet by riding into the EPA offices and seeking to ease the burdens placed upon industry-minded Americans. In this, Scott Pruitt is caught in the great battle of our time. Not over questions of regulatory authority at the EPA, but the battle over the proposition of continued self governance.

I disagree with Scott Pruitt for reasons that put me at odds with the bulk of readership at this newspaper, but can still offer tepid support for him being in President Trump’s Cabinet. The proposition of our Republic, government being necessary to protect inalienable rights, places me in the position of having to let government be staffed by the Scott Pruitt’s of the republic. I would like to abolish the EPA, he’d like to run it better and scale it back some percentage of my wishes. With a big-government interested President like Trump, I’m happy to have a man of Scott Pruitt’s temperament and restraint running the EPA.

I don’t know what will happen at the EPA, but that, while being onerous and threatening towards liberty, is not a grave threat to our Republic. The religious-themed craziness that is currently making Scott Pruitt the incarnation of evil come up to ruin humanity is of much greater importance to America continuing as a self-governing people. Scott Pruitt is wrong about a great many things, but he’s not the end of days for humanity. When one half of our country proposes that the planet will not survive a well trained and experienced lawyer from Oklahoma making policy that regulates oil companies among others, bleak is our future.

The next four years will be unlike any other, because we now have a President unlike any other. This thing goes full Planet of the Apes if people like Scott Pruitt are barred from office because he is several steps to the right of the far-far-away galaxy left. If Scott Pruitt is an extremist, comb-over, blue-suit clad Scott Pruitt, Liberty will no longer yield as government expands – it will be consumed. We live in Interesting times, in the Chinese curse sort of way. These times require unlikely alliances, here’s one – Scott Pruitt for the big job over at the Environmental Protection Agency.

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