Back in 2009, Glenn Beck was obsessed with making White House regulatory czar Cass Sunstein the next Van Jones. Now, the mostly-unscathed legal scholar is leaving on his own terms as he returns to Harvard Law School, Politico's Mike Allen reports. At the end of the month, Sunstein, administrator of the powerful Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, will head to Cambridge to become the director of the Program on Behavioral Economics and Public Policy. “For the last three and a half years, Cass Sunstein has helped drive a series of historic accomplishments on behalf of the American people," said President Obama in a statement. "From putting in place lifesaving protections for America’s families, to eliminating tens of millions of hours of paperwork burdens for our nation’s citizens and businesses, Cass has shown that it is possible to support economic growth without sacrificing health, safety, and the environment."
The irony of Beck's campaign against Sunstein was always that the celebrity legal scholar, married to academic-turned-special assistant to Obama Samantha Power, was originally a target of the left, who saw his appointment as an "olive branch from an incoming Democratic president to conservatives and libertarians." That perception existed because of his libertarian-leaning scholarship on behavioral economics. His skepticism toward regulations won him endorsements from conservative influence-peddlers like The Wall Street Journal's editorial board, which called his nomination a "savvy choice" and labeled him an important "voice in the incoming administration," and libertarian/conservative bloggers Glenn Reynolds and Ed Morrissey. Of course, that honeymoon ended after Glenn Beck, thirsty for more blood following his successful campaign against White House Green Jobs Czar Van Jones, set his sights on Sunstein, as The Daily Beast's Katie Connolly wrote at the time:
The Fox News host is waging a war against Obama's "czars." ... Recently he urged fans, via his Twitter feed, to collect and save all the information they could find about Sunstein; yesterday he warned that the Democrats would lose the vote on the nomination, and suggested they are afraid of Beck fans. Beck's objections are gaining traction, evidenced by the emergence of a new Web site called Stop Sunstein. Sponsored by the American Conservative Union, the site features a home page screaming, "President Barack Obama has nominated Cass Sunstein, a radical anti-gun, anti-hunting, animal rights law professor to be his 'regulatory czar,' " alongside images of fake newspapers declaring "Guns Banned," "Hunting Banned," and "FCC Pulls Plug on Limbaugh." The page blazes with out-of-context quotes that make Sunstein look quite loopy.
In the end, everyone sort of realized Sunstein's scholarship on the ethical problems of hunting didn't mean he was going to outlaw the sport by fiat. And Roger Ailes also seemed to realize Glenn Beck was getting a little too out there even for Fox News.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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