Wednesday, December 04, 2002

Well, this is unsurprising:

The White House has decided that several thousand political appointees across the federal government will be eligible for cash bonuses, abandoning a Clinton-era prohibition that grew out of questionable practices in the first Bush administration....
...which has, of course, been reconstituted in Bush II, making this no surprise...

Administration officials said the policy shift, ordered by the White House chief of staff, Andrew H. Card Jr., earlier this year but never publicly disclosed, seeks to correct the inequity of political appointees' working side by side with civil servants who routinely receive bonuses.
There's inequity for a reason; political appointees aren't the same thing as career civil servants and aren't supposed to be. By the way, why does "never publicly disclosed" not surprise me?

The new policy is being instituted at many federal departments, and a few agencies have already begun distributing awards of several thousand dollars each to political appointees. For example, the Justice Department has given bonuses to political appointees who were deemed to have played important roles in counterterrorism and the Sept. 11 investigation, officials said.
Fortunately, I'm not a cynical person, or I'd mention something about asses being covered. Actually, this is quite probably on the level; the problem is that it needn't be, and probably won't be given time.

An Oct. 8 Justice Department memorandum explaining how the bonuses will be distributed within the department says that awards for political appointees "will be limited to truly outstanding performance that contributes directly to achieving the president's and the attorney general's national goals and objectives."
Again, good thing I'm not cynical.

"Political employees should be judged and rewarded in the same manner as career employees," the memorandum said.

Mr. Bush's aides say the White House policy shift reflects the administration's emphasis on a "results-oriented government," rewarding excellence and productivity by all federal employees.
Ok, enough foolishness. The combination of raw Republican power and what will no doubt be an appointment-happy new department stuffed with Republican appointees makes this sort of thing almost inevitable; I imagine that the Dems would do something similar, were they enjoying this sort of impunity. One of the roles of a political party is to reward loyalty, after all; it goes with the territory, and removing partisanship from the game only means that you have a mass of individualist lawmakers who can't get anything done and whose incumbency advantages doesn't face any sort of organized opposition by which they can be removed from office. (It also means heightened ideology in lawmakers; without partisanship, how else are people going to organize to get laws passed?)

The problem, naturally, is that the Bush administration won't really get called on this by anybody outside the party. There's a reason the media is called the fifth estate: they're supposed to be a check on governmental power that is neither trying to get its own laws passed nor get its own candidates in power. As past events have amply demonstrated, however, that is simply not the case. The media isn't going to call president to the floor on this any more than they have any of the other secretive bullshit that flows from this administration. They're too busy attacking John Kerry because he ain't as purty as Shrub and (as Jim Cappozola brilliantly pointed out with that absolutely brulliant "Alpha girl" piece) because they really want to be part of that popular and sexy neo-con clique.

(And why not? There's so much money and fame and power in it, and they think the public doesn't give a rat's ass anyway. They might even be right... 30something percent turnout is shameful, if unsurprising.)

Then again, perhaps there's some good in this. The more power that parties develop (and this is a definite blow for partisan power), the more likely it is that the Democrats will grow some stones and realize that the only way they're going to regain any part of the Government is if they start finding some liberal partisans that start hammering away *now*; ones who aren't running for office, don't care about fame or being liked by Bush and the neo-cons, and who have the guts, intelligence, and integrity to stand up to the blizzard of hurled bullshit that will no doubt follow. Cappozola identified the problem: the left needs Gammas, and Krugman is doing a yeoman's job but simply ain't enough.

Any volunteers?

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