Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Bush fires another incompetent crony

Finally, something to blog about besides Jeremiah Wright. Lurita Doan was fired. Not familiar with the name? Not many people are. She is (was) head of the General Services Administration, basically the head Office Manager for the federal government. She got in trouble, as Bush Administration officials are wont to do, because she had to testify before Congress about putting pressure on employees of the federal government to support Republican candidates. Of course, she denied it. I can't quite remember what the outcome was - it's probably one of those investigations that is probably still ongoing in the bowels of Congress.

Talking Points Memo has the story and video of her testimony before Congress. My favorite part of this story is that it is another example of something that seems to have gone unnoticed: George Bush is just a terrible politician. I don't mean in the sense that I disagree with him, although I do. And I don't mean in the sense that he has done substantial damage to the rule of law in this country, which I think he has.

I mean that he is a terrible politician in the sense of being able to work the levers of politics for his own advantage. Politics is a profession, just like law or medicine, and there are certain ways of getting things done. I don't mean lying or obfuscating or screwing people over. There are certain things that a politician has to be able to do well to be successful. They have to be competent at developing a strategic plan and executing it well; they have to anticipate crises and handle them well; they have to anticipate how their opposition will respond, and plan accordingly.

George Bush is terrible at all of this. And most of the people around him are terrible as well. TPM describes how Bush et al. handle personnel problems:
It's the Bush administration's special approach to accountability: stand
staunchly beside an administration official as the allegations pile up and his
or her credibility dwindles to nothing, and then months later -- long after the
administration could derive any credit for the deed, and it is widely assumed
that they are content to let the official fester in office for the duration --
the official abruptly and inexplicably resigns. So it was with Donald Rumsfeld
and Alberto Gonzales.

Bush apparently places loyalty so high on his list of values that he sacrifices his political capital for no reason. What's truly astonishing is that he gets nothing from waiting so long to fire controversial figures. He fired Rumsfeld the day after the 2006 elections, when it did him no good whatsoever, and in fact angered Congressional Republicans, who had been agitating for Rumsfeld to be fired.

Now that he has fired Doan, her name pops up in the press again, long after the initial controversy. And she was the head of the General Services Administration. Republicans have long claimed that, as the party of business, they are better managers than Democrats. But Bush just fired the person most directly responsible for actually managing most of the federal government's physical assets. So this is two strikes for Democrats on the issue of competence. Bush doesn't fire people when he should, and he hires incompetent cronies, even when their job has no (or isn't supposed to have) any ideological component.

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