There's an article in this morning's Financial Times reporting that the Obamas have restored the practice of installing solar panelling on the White House residence. I suppose it's better than not doing so. And certainly better than making a mess of the renewable energy neogtiations which senators John Kerry, Joe Lieberman and Lindsay Graham had been quite heroically pressing with a very well-mobilized and well-financed opposition.
Jimmy Carter (and, of course, Rosalynn) put up these panels in 1979 when you got the gas for your automobile on days determined by the last digit on the license it bore. Ronald Reagan took them down, perhaps because Nancy was told by her regular visionary that it was bad luck. George W. Bush put them back up. But not on the residence: just the White House grounds.
Nobel Prize-winning energy secretary Steven Chu commented at the ceremony that the panels "should also be a symbol of America's commitment to a clean energy fututre." He also said that "it's been a long time since we've had them up there."
Along with this dramatic symbolism comes an article by Ryan Lizza in the current New Yorker, an article with dazzling detail: "As The World Burns: How the Senate and the White House missed their best chance to deal with climate change." It reminded me of why I so miss Ryan in our columns.