Reelection Uber Alles
. Does everyone remember Campaign 2000? Remember how it seemed like every major pundit had some sort of Gore-bashing quota which required them to mention, as often as possible, that he "would do anything to win"? I never bought into that, because I just didn't see any evidence of it. In fact, after reading Jeffrey Toobin's Too Close to Call
, I know beyond any doubt that there was a hell of a lot that Gore could have done to win which he declined to do. A hell of a lot.
Fast-forward to the present, and read this
article from the Washington Post
about how the Bush administration is strong-arming the entire federal government (political appointees as well as "non-political" government workers) into aiding Republicans in the upcoming mid-term elections, and tell me what you think about that. The White House is desperate to win back the Senate and keep control of the House (the latter being far, far more likely than the former), and Bush is pulling out all the stops.
After you've thought about that for while, think about the current debate over the Homeland Security Department, and think about the fact that, without the standard civil service protections that all federal employees enjoy, which act as a barrier between politics and day-in-day-out government work, the White House would sole discretion to make hiring and firing decisions based on purely political assessments. In other words, "Hey, Joe, you really might want to support Bush if you like your job and want it to continue." Also, who do you think is more likely to be hired, a non-political vaguely liberal professional, or the incompetent ne'er-do-well second-cousin of a crucial "swing vote" Senator? Be honest, who's more likely to be hired?
Forgive the cliche, but this is an outrage. Clinton, he was a shrewd political cat, and no mistake. But Bush puts him to shame in almost every area that Republicans used to bitch about. Bush fundraises more. Bush is more beholden to opinion polls (arguably... it's a tough thing to quantify, but we can at least agree that he's not significantly less beholden). Bush is more beholden to special interests (Clinton "betrayed" labor, blacks, gays, and other key supporters on several occasions... Bush has never gone against oil, and his short-lived corporate-crime crusade is dead and buried). And with this, we can see that Bush is far more crass and cynical when it comes to hard-nosed politicking.
The wall separating career government workers, who have a job to do (whether it's protecting the environment, enforcing the tax code, or defending the nation), from the cut-throat world of politics is vitally important to any strong democratic nation. It protects the integrity of legitimate government research studies, it protects workers' ability to perform their duties competently, even when going against the ideological bent of their chief executive, and it is a barrier against cronyism (which is itself inimical to integrity and competency). The Bush Administration has found new and devious ways of getting around these vital protections, and is pressing full-steam to tear them down explicitly in what should be the most apolitical department of all, the Department of Homeland Security.
Somebody has to cry foul. Lots of somebodies have to cry foul. Loudly and repeatedly. TAPPED
has done so (and thanks to them, incidentally, for bringing this story to my attention). I've thrown my two cents in. Who's next?