Last week, the Obama administration leaked that their choice for Secretary of Energy would be Nobel Prize-winning physicist Steven Chu, currently the director of Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. Yesterday, Obama made it official, publicly announcing his nomination for Chu. Personally, I think this is fantastic – a second highly competent and qualified Asian American nominated by Obama – the first being General Eric Shinseki for Veteran Affairs.
When I emailed the news last week to a friend of mine who went to Stanford (where Chu used to be a professor) he responded, “This is AWESOME! I had a class with this guy back in college. Actually, I attended 2-3 sessions but didn’t understand a word that came out of the guy’s mouth (not because of his english, but because I didn’t understand the subject), I dropped it.” From all accounts, Chu is a brilliant and creative scientist. Hopefully, he is also politically savvy as he navigates the halls of Washington.
Chu’s nomination is kind of ironic, especially given the recent controversy of Asian Americans against Governor Bill Richardson serving on the Obama administration due to his controversial role in prosecuting Wen Ho Lee under the Clinton administration when he served as Secretary of Energy. I wonder how Chu would handle a Wen Ho Lee-like controversy as Secretary of Energy; certainly, he’d understand that just because someone is Chinese, doesn’t mean they are a spy for Communist China.