The Costanza Administration

Profiles from the future of litigation: “The following memo was unearthed as part of the litigation, now entering its 50th year, over the Great Japan Nuclear Incident of 2011. Addressed to General Electric’s then-CEO Jeff Immelt, the memo appears to have been drafted by an executive in the company’s office of strategy:”


None of us at GE needs to be reminded that there is no natural “private” market for nuclear reactors. All our customers are governments, government-owned companies, or nominally private companies regulated by government. In the U.S., demand for reactors depends on the availability of federal loan guarantees and the Price-Anderson nuclear indemnity law (private insurance being unavailable for nuclear reactors).

Politics thus being the mother’s milk of the nuclear business, GE’s Institute of Ecomagination (aka our Washington lobbying shop) highlights a disturbing new correlation: Whenever President Obama endorses an energy option, disaster promptly ensues. His ringing support of expanded offshore drilling came just weeks before the BP oil spill. The Japanese reactor mess followed not long after he lauded nuclear energy as a weapon to fight global warming.

On the site, George Mason University political scientist Jeremy Mayer recently opined: “I don’t think Obama’s cursed on energy policy, but this is a string of bad luck.”

We disagree. Though on the advice of PR we’ve stopped referring to it as the “Obama Black Swan Effect,” this powerful yet mysterious indicator is too important to ignore. Accordingly, this office recommends a new corporate strategy: Whatever Mr. Obama says, GE should do the opposite, starting with investing in coal-burning power-plants and health care reprivatization.

This, of course, would represent a 180-degree reversal of current GE strategy, informally known around headquarters as the “jump how high?” strategy. This office nevertheless believes the evidence warrants such a change in direction.


As always, whatever Obama recommends, bet on the opposite. As I wrote in December:

Then: Joe Biden seen as example of Seinfeldian opposite theory, akin to George Costanza in the New York Yankees’ front office, a comparatively plodding backbencher tapped to join a political juggernaut.

NOW: Joe Biden seen as example of Seinfeldian opposite theory, the comparatively grown-up voice of sanity and reason in an otherwise hapless trainwreck of an administration.

Meanwhile, Obama’s foreign policy hasn’t exactly been made for this plane of reality, either:

John Bolton, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, tells National Review Online that President Obama is dithering on Libya. “Every hour that goes by shows me how [Obama] is not ready for this,” he says. “I am feeling sick to my stomach that we are into something where the president does not know what he is doing.”

Mr. Ambassador — we all have that feeling — for well over two years now.



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