Monday, March 26, 2007

Bush's Clueless Cronyism

In 1952, Harry Truman’s last year in office, The New York Times referred to his Administration’s “sorry reputation for...cronyism.”

As the Alberto Gonzales saga unfolds, it’s clear that Truman has been outdone by George Bush. Harry S appointed an old friend, Tom Clark, A.G. but Clark had been in the Justice Department for 20 years. Gonzales’s main qualifications were getting Bush off jury duty in Texas and then, as White House counsel, telling him torture is OK.

Under the traditional spoils system, winners put friends into jobs for which they had marginal abilities or into marginal jobs where abilities were beside the point.

Bush has redefined that into a frat-house, country-club favoritism for critical positions: Brownie lost his job promoting Arabian horses so why not let him run FEMA?

The loyal old family retainers, Cheney and Rumsfeld, would do as VP and Secretary of Defense. They steered us into Iraq, using Gen. Colin Powell to front for them at the UN. Now the State Department is being run by old pal Condoleeza Rice who, as keen political observer Donald Trump has noted, does nothing but stand on tarmacs and wave to the cameras.

By contrast, Truman’s Secretary of State, a non-crony, Gen. George Marshall, devised a plan for the recovery of Western Europe from World War II.

With the help of super-crony Karl Rove, Bush has practiced equal opportunity for the unqualified, not only with Rice, but in trying to slip hopeless Harriet Meirs onto the Supreme Court bench. But the way things are going, he may soon run out of acquaintances and be forced to start appointing total strangers to Cabinet and White House positions.

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