More Bushco disregard for smart policy

Check out Bruce Reed's article at the Washington Monthly about the administration's willingness to make all expertise subservient to political considerations. It puts this oft-noted aspect of the administration into some useful perspective.

I often find it helpful, when considering how groups of people with lots of power and lots of responsibility can make such terrible messes, to apply the "what if it was your office?" test. The theory being that all offices are fundamentally the same, regardless of whether your executive is the President of the United States, the President of Goldman Sachs, or the President of Johnson Office Supply. The movie business provides a good example. Sometimes you come across a movie that is such a dreadful loser, its very existence, much less the tens of hundreds of millions of dollars it cost, seems inexplicable. Rather than chalking it up to Hollywood being depraved or crazy, I think a better explanation is simply office inertia. Someone with clout, at some point, mentioned such and such movie would be a good idea, the underlings didn't feel like wasting the time or capital to point out that was stupid, the people working on the movie are just trying to get paid, and many millions of dollars later, you get "The Air Up There" (that movie where Kevin Bacon teaches people in Africa to play basketball. It was on in a bar the other week.) It's just plain old office inertia, only difference is, when it happens at your office, all posterity isn't subjected to it.

Same goes for Bushco's disregard for expertise and common sense as regards policymaking. The political operation in this White House is obviously where you want to be. Those are the office cool kids, the movers and shakers who get rewarded, whose work is respected, and if you're in that office, you're a bit envious and intimidated by their status. Even though you may know that your work and the work of people close to you is just as important and vital to the office's success, you're more likely to be quietly bitter about it than to jeopardize what everyone with clout thinks is really important. You'll go about your business, try not to contradict too much, nurse those wounds in private and think about quitting. Of course, dysfunction at most offices doesn't end up fucking the whole country for the next twenty years.


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