Friday, April 28, 2006

The Incompetence, The Corruption, The Cronyism: April 28, 2006 edition

I think Paul Krugman should have titled his column today "The Incompetence, the Corruption, and the Cronyism", but he called it The Crony Fairy (behind the TimesSelect wall; Middle Earth Journal has the column here.)

On the other hand, the history of the Bush administration, from the botched reconstruction of Iraq to the botched start-up of the prescription drug program, shows that a president who isn't serious about governing, who prizes loyalty and personal connections over competence, can quickly reduce the government of the world's most powerful nation to third-world levels of ineffectiveness.

And bear in mind that Mr. Bush's pattern of cronyism didn't change after Katrina. For example, he appointed Julie Myers, the inexperienced niece of Gen. Richard Myers, to head Immigration and Customs Enforcement — an agency that, like FEMA, is supposed to protect us against terrorism as well as other threats. Even at the C.I.A., the administration seems more interested in purging Democrats than in improving the quality of intelligence.

So let's skip the name change for FEMA, O.K.? The United States will regain effective government if and when it gets a president who cares more about serving the nation than about rewarding his friends and scoring political points. That's at least a thousand days away. Meanwhile, don't count on FEMA, or on any other government agency, to do its job.

I see the Bush MO for destroying government as follows:

The Corruption
: Lie about your political aims (Compassionate Conservatism, Against Nation Building); cheat to get into office (Florida 2000; Ohio 2004)

The Cronyism
: Reward friends and bagmen (Pioneers) with appointments (Michael Brown, Harriet Miers, Tom Ridge) to jobs they can screw up.

The Incompetence: Run federal agencies into the ground (FEMA, Army Corps of Engineers, EPA, OSHA).

Declare war and go home to reap the profits (probably to be employed in Iraq very soon.): Proclaim that government doesn't work, get lame members of Congress to support abolishing government agencies.

In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for. As for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican. H.L. Mencken

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