Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Good question

Tom Friedman's column today,"Saying No to Bush's Yes Men," asks a good one. One that would seem to have an obvious answer, yes:
To me, the most baffling thing about the Bush presidency is this: If you had worked for so long to be president, wouldn't you want to staff your administration with the very best people you could find, especially in national security and especially in the area of intelligence, which has been the source of so much controversy — from 9/11 to Iraq?

Wouldn't that be your instinct?
Well, yeah, you'd think. You'd think any President would have that instinct. But Bush is a unique case. See, has not really "worked for so long to be president...". He's never worked hard for much in his life at all. So he doesn't truly value what he's doing right now. How could he? Hasn't had to struggle with choices, weigh big decisions much before becoming President. So what's his frame of reference when everything's been handed to him. How could he know how to make difficult decisions? Never evidenced much in his life in the way of big ideas or philosophies. Indeed, he's probably overwhelmed in this job and struggling just to keep up. So he likely doesn't think through such obvious questions like is this the best person for this job. Sad as it may be. He's all about the politics, since it's influencing most of these decisions. He's at the mercy of this partisan master, so how could his appointments reflect anything other than that? And that's Bush's choice.

And if the President doesn't think about who's best, then surely Congress would do its job and say no to incompetent appointments. Wouldn't you think? Well, maybe in some former version of reality in which we lived. In the current version, you end up with the Porter Gosses or Brownies of the Bush administration.

One more example of partisan hackery cited by Friedman:
Is there no job in this administration that is too important to be handed over to a political hack? No. In his excellent book on the Iraq war, "The Assassins' Gate," George Packer tells the story of how some of the State Department's best Iraq experts were barred from going to Iraq immediately after the invasion — when they were needed most — because that didn't pass Dick Cheney's or Don Rumsfeld's ideology tests. And that is the core of the matter: the Bush team believes in loyalty over expertise. When ideology always trumps reality, loyalty always trumps expertise.
It's quite the fine mess W has made, indeed, by these strange choices. And there's another one in the pipeline, the lawless Hayden heading Congress' way...any bet on what they're going to do?