Some amount of blame here resides with the national political media, which often depicts politics as a game full of goofy characters, not the battleground of government policy. Environmental policy keeps the air and water from killing us, but it moves slowly and has few personalities. It also combines dull, technical language (one of the most important ideas in environmental law is called Chevron deference, ugh) with gauche connotations of latte liberalism.
As such, I have no doubt that news consumers heard more this week about Pruitt’s hapless pursuit of Ritz-Carlton hand lotion than a new Politico report that finds the EPA is suppressing a study showing “most Americans inhale enough formaldehyde vapor in the course of daily life to put them at risk of developing leukemia and other ailments.”
For all those media failures, though, it helps to have a villain—and Pruitt was an inspired villain. His scandals also allowed Democrats and other administration opponents to talk about deeper, more substantive rollbacks. If he abused his public office, what else was he doing?