Day By Day

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Bush and the Bureaucrats

One of the most admirable features of the Bush administration has been its determination to bring a largely unaccountable federal bureaucracy to heel. Naturally the bureaucrats have fought back, characterizing the administration's efforts as attempts to "politicize" the government [snicker, as though the bureaucrats were not already intensely political], leaking any information they thought might undermine the president, and feeding talking points to his political opponents.

One of the conduits for bureaucratic rage has been Dan Froomkin, who writes political gossip pieces for the WaPo. His latest hit consisted of a charge that Bush is "incompetent" and has seriously damaged the effectiveness of the permanent government.

What tripe! He asserts that the public, not the political elites, has rendered this judgment on its own, ignoring a determined long-term propaganda effort on the part of Democrats seeking to create just that impression.

He supports this charge by reiterating the Democrats' claims that the Iraq War has been incompetently handled -- a charge that is plausible only if the current conflict is considered completely without reference to other major military actions. In comparison with Vietnam, Korea, World Wars I and II, the Spanish-American War, the Civil War, the Mexican War, the War of 1812, and the American Revolution, the current conflict has been a miracle of efficiency and effectiveness. To suggest otherwise is to display almost unimaginable naivete regarding the nature of war or a disturbing degree of cynicism in distorting facts to serve political purposes. The latter has particularly been the case with factions within the Military and Intelligence bureaucracies who have raised such charges in order to deflect criticism from themselves, or to oppose efforts to reform their agencies.

He follows this with the exaggerated critiques of FEMA's performance under Bush stemming from the Katrina disaster and unsubstantiated [and largely fabricated] charges of attempts to politicize the Justice Department.

His main point is that Dick Cheney and Karl Rove sought to make the permanent government responsive to political authority.

And what, in God's name, is wrong with that? In a democratic system the "professionals" must always remain subservient to political authority. To far too many of the beltway mandarins, the political process is simply an inconvenience to be evaded or marginalized in the interest of effective management. This is a dangerously undemocratic position that can lead to technocratic tyranny, but unfortunately it is all too common in Washington.

I applaud Bush for his willingness to stand up to the professionals and his attempts to restore some accountability to our government.

Read Froomkin's smear here.