Most impressive nomination yet, IMHO

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In several previous dispatches (here, here, and here) I emphasized what good news it was that Barack Obama had chosen Steven Chu as his new Secretary of Energy. I based this on Chu's own reputation and record:

 Because he is an eminent physicist, Chu's very presence in the job would hearten proponents of more emphasis on pure science. Because he has devoted his attention in recent years to the technological advances and the international cooperation necessary to deal with climate issues, he would both symbolize the important of this challenge and potentially lead the Administration's efforts. There were many other virtues of this choice.

I said all this without having any idea of the kind of team that would surround Chu at DoE. But if this report, on Al Kamen's Washington Post site is correct, he has made an inspired choice for his Deputy Secretary and closest working associate. This is Susan F. Tierney, of Boston.

She has been a leader in energy, environmental, and climate-change issues for decades, in academia, government, and business. Her bipartisan bona fides are such that she was appointed a commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities by Governor Mike Dukakis, and then Secretary of Environmental Affairs by Governor William Weld. She was an assistant secretary at DoE during Bill Clinton's first term, and since then has worked as a consultant at the Analysis Group and served on countless national and international commissions dealing with energy, environmental, and climate issues. She is an honest a person as you will find in public life, and is a skilled manager. Assuming Kamen's report is correct, this is another superb choice.

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I am not an expert on energy or climate issues, but about Tierney's character and temperament I feel very confident in my assessments. I have known her as long as any person on earth has, since I was just under two years old when she arrived in the household as my little sister. Her mother and father would be extremely proud; her sister and two brothers, plus her husband and two sons and many others, are proud enough to make up. Really, her only failing is that she has never, once, given me any inside info of any sort on any topic that she has been working on. Sisters!

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.
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