In this cauldron of stupidity we call a presidential campaign, the scandal of the minute is Obama campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith’s description of Solyndra as “successful and innovative.” She actually said Solyndra was “widely praised as successful and innovative.” She said this not because she wanted to trend on Twitter, but because Solyndra was, in fact, widely praised as successful and innovative. And if you understand this, you can understand the entire Solyndra pseudo-scandal.
As I write in my upcoming book, The New New Deal, Solyndra was once the toast of Silicon Valley, a hot start-up whose product was not only innovative but revolutionary. It was one of the most successful fund-raisers in the history of clean-tech finance, attracting an astonishing $1 billion from elite investors like British mogul Richard Branson, whose Virgin Green Fund selected Solyndra from a pool of 117 solar companies. When the Bush Administration wanted to complete its first clean-energy loan guarantee before leaving office, it chose Solyndra from 143 applicants. The Energy Department’s civil servants objected to the rush job in January 2009, but suggested the loan had merit; when Obama took over, Solyndra’s application was already at the top of the pile.