I'm reading all these news reports on people not being very happy with Obama's nomination of Leon Penetta to head the FBI. I, for one, can understand the puzzlement of appointing someone to head something in which he hasn't had any knowledge of experience in. But what I'm even MORE puzzled is that, how come such a criteria (i.e. appointing someone to head something that he/she is knowledgable in) isn't applied to the various other appointee, especially before this?
Since we are dealing with science, let's look at the Dept. of Energy. Did Federico Peña and Bill Richardson, for example as former Secretaries of the Dept. of Energy, had any science background to head a deparment that deals with science issues? Do you hear people complaining about that? What about James Schlesinger, the first Secretary of DOE? Did he have a science expertise? What about Hazel O'Leary? Did she learn about physics while doing her law degree? Did people brought up the fact that these are non-scientists and people with no technical background who were nominated to head a science agency?
Or maybe, the reason why this did not cause quite a ruckus the way the Pennetta nomination is doing now is because the DOE doesn't create quite the "sexines" in terms of storyline the way and FBI story does. Or maybe people think that the FBI director has more of an impact on people's lives than the secretary of DOE? I will point to you all the appliances in your home (including your phones and iPods and GPS system and computers), and then you tell me which one actually has more of an impact on your lives.
If people are going to argue that someone who heads an agency must be competent in that area, then they should be consistent about it and not simply use it when it is convenient, or when the story is "sexy".
It is why the nomination of Steven Chu is DEAD ON accurate! No one can argue about his credentials (when was the last time you get a Nobel Laureate to head a US agency?), and he certainly has the managerial expertise.