The Moral Depravity of the Right’s Defense of Scott Pruitt

The right’s commitment to environmental deregulation is trumping any concern about corruption.

Of course they don’t think he did anything wrong. Hell, they probably think he hasn’t spent enough of the taxpayer’s money:

Conservative leaders are urging President Donald Trump to stand behind embattled EPA chief Scott Pruitt, organizing for the first time to present a unified front in defense of a Trump Cabinet official.

In a letter delivered to the White House on Friday, the group of prominent conservatives thanked Trump for sticking with Pruitt, one of their ideological brethren, and said, in essence, that Pruitt’s policy accomplishments made him worth the trouble.

“The days of a rogue, agenda driven EPA are over,” the group wrote. “Scott Pruitt is a bold, capable manager and is right for this job. His record shows you made the right choice picking him. We are certain he will guide EPA through the coming years of your Administration as a courageous and qualified administrator.”

The letter was signed by the leaders of 10 influential conservative organizations, including former Attorney General Edwin Meese, William Walton of CNP Action, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, Michael Needham of Heritage Action, Adam Brandon of FreedomWorks, Jenny Beth Martin of Tea Party Patriots Citizen Fund, Brent Bozell of the Media Research Center and David McIntosh, president of the Club for Growth.

“Pruitt is delivering on policy changes that conservatives have wanted to see for years, if not decades,” Martin said. “There’s not a single member of the cabinet who has managed to deliver regulation rollbacks as much as Scott Pruitt has.”

Think about it. So devoted are these individuals to destroying any and all efforts to address the threat of human-caused climate change—a threat that these right-wingers, of course, think is a hoax—that they’re willing to overlook all manner and manifestation of unethical behavior:

Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt’s concern with his safety came at a steep cost to taxpayers as his swollen security detail blew through overtime budgets and at times diverted officers away from investigating environmental crimes to protect him.

Altogether, the agency spent millions of dollars for a 20-member full-time security detail that is three times the size of his predecessor’s part-time security contingent.

New details in Pruitt’s expansive spending for security and travel emerged from agency sources and documents reviewed by The Associated Press. They come as the embattled EPA leader fends off allegations of profligate spending and ethical missteps that have imperiled his job…

Pruitt’s ambitious domestic and international travel led to rapidly escalating costs, with the security detail racking up so much overtime that many hit annual salary caps of about $160,000. The demands of providing 24-hour coverage even meant taking some investigators away from field work, such as when Pruitt traveled to California for a family vacation.

The EPA official said total security costs approached $3 million when pay is added to travel expenses.

In the right-wing mind, Pruitt’s profligate spending is a good thing. He deserves these peculiar perks, because he’s on a righteous mission: sticking it to Al Gore, Bill McKibben, and Leonardo DiCaprio by dismantling policies intended to reduce emissions. If you’re serving the greater good, nothing you do can be considered bad.

Thirty years ago this August, then-Republican Presidential candidate George H. W. Bush delivered a speech in Michigan vowing to address climate change in the White House. Back then, Bush asserted that he was “an environmentalist…and that is not inconsistent with being a businessman. Nor is it with being a conservative.”

The problem with that logic is that according to the tenets of the Republican Party, being an environmentalist is inconsistent with being a businessman and a conservative. That’s why right-wingers never really liked Bush 41…and that’s why right-wingers will defend Pruitt at all costs.

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.