To err is human. To regret is impolitic.
That was the message yesterday from President Obama, when asked about Solyndra during an ABC/Yahoo interview yesterday with George Stephanopoulos. Here is the exchange:
No regrets Mr. President? Seriously?
Stephanopoulos did not ask about the broader loan guarantee portfolio, or the need to support America’s alternative energy market. He asked specifically about Solyndra, which has gone bankrupt after burning through $528 million in federal monies. He didn’t even ask if the Solyndra loans were politically-motivated — an oft-repeated charge that has yet to be supported by actual evidence.
He simply wanted to know if Obama regrets holding Solyndra up as the model for jobs and clean energy. How could his answer have been anything but: “Of course I do.”
This isn’t to accuse the the Department of Energy of doing shoddy due diligence. Or to tar the loan guarantee program as a failure. Instead, it would simply have been an acknowledgement that the Administration’s decision to highlight Solyndra — rather than another, still-viable loan recipient — has helped cast a pall on both the larger program and its noble goals.
Hindsight is indeed 20/20, as Obama said. But regret is retrospective by its nature. You can both support your original decision (based on facts then in evidence) and still wish you had come to a different conclusion. The faster Obama formally regrets Solyndra, the faster his clean energy program can move forward.