John Holdren, left, and Jane Lubchenco

Washington Post reports that Sen. Robert Menendez is blocking the nominations of the Obama administration’s two top science advisers, John Holdren and Jane Lubchenco. Holdren has been nominated to head up the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and Lubchenco is to lead NOAA.

The nominations of two of President Obama’s top science advisers have stalled in the Senate, according to several sources, posing a challenge to the administration as it seeks to frame new policies on climate change and other environmental issues . . . According to sources who asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to discuss the matter, Menendez is using the holds as leverage to get Senate leaders’ attention for a matter related to Cuba rather than questioning the nominees’ credentials

Linking science to totally unrelated policy issues seems like a major gamble for Menendez, and probably sends the wrong message to the nation and the world. Again, from WaPo:

“Climate change damages our oceans more every day we fail to act,” said Michael Hirshfield, chief scientist for the advocacy group Oceana. “We need these two supremely qualified individuals on the job yesterday.” [ . . . ] Stanford University professor Stephen H. Schneider said it was critical that Holdren take office as soon as possible, because “I know no others who bring the triple-play capability of John on security, energy and environment.” The delay comes as a slew of international officials are coming to Washington this week to meet with administration officials and members of Congress about addressing global warming.

In this political age, it is also surprising that pols think they can take steps like this without leaving fingerprints behind. The old “rules of the game” can’t be applied, but it apparently hasn’t sunk in yet.

Menendez spokesman Afshin Mohamadi declined to comment on the matter, writing in an e-mail, “It is our office’s policy not to speculate or comment on anonymous holds or rumors of anonymous holds, across the board.”