« You Don't Expect Anyone to Have a Plan for Collecting Bodies, Do You? | Main | “A Shining Example for the Whole World” – Eco New Orleans »

September 06, 2005


Do0n't forget neglect of NIH and the CDC, which aren't the organizations they used to be under Clinton. Many senior people have left or are leaving.

And of course we've all read about the intellegence agencies.

Check out the "credentials" of the top officials at FEMA.

In Britain they have something like permanent undersecretaries for the major ministries. (At least they do on Masterpiece Theater.) There is a permanent bureaucracy here, which always gets a bad rap but which, in fact, does provide a lot of continuity and institutional memory (if it is consulted). Maybe we need much more of that, i.e., fewer jobs subject to presidential appointment and more top career civil servants.

Probably because they are so much less interested in actual governing, in my experience incoming Republican Administrations do not pay much attention to the briefing books that are preapred by the outgoing folks or the permanent bureaucracy.

Yeah, it's not just on Masterpiece Theater. I remember that from Comparative Politics, POL 201. IIRC, they're appointed (although I'm fuzzy on how they're appointed) and they often serve in that capacity quite a long time.

There is occasionally good cause for non-continuity in government -- I remember reading that Hoover tried to get Roosevelt to co-sign on some policies between the election and turnover of the presidency, and FDR stayed miles away. The thing is, however, when Bush took over, the country was fat and happy; no one wanted change (which is why they voted for Gore). Bush had to practically pretend he'd hardly change a thing to get close to winning. To, following that, do a 180 on everything was a colossal act of arrogance. But, that's what they do well.

We have had SOME continuity in the past, at least in theory, with the permanent appointees at State, Justice, and throughout various agencies. But the Bush folk made it their first-term mission to have anyone not 100% in sync with the administration forced out.

Which of course is why it's so galling they're still reaching for ways to blame others for their failures.

What is the plan for the bodies? Will they take dna and save for future id. Bush better not dig a hole and shove the bodies in. Bush better not have a big fire.

You are describing an administration staffed by movement conservatives who really do consider themselves to be the anti-Clintons. It's not just at the top.

In addition, they reject the opinions of experts because the experts in most cases tell them that their political rhetoric is unworkable. We know this, but one side effect is that they don't have any policy-making machinery. EVERYTHING is political, and the definition of good or bad depends on how an election turns out.

So in addition to being the anti-Clintons, they have no policy mechanisms they trust to put effective anti-Clintion policies that might work into place. Not only do they not have policies for disaster management, they don't have personnel selection policies either. That is why Brown got FEMA. He knew someone, so he got the job.

Most of us who read this blog and dKos are policy wonk types. It is hard for us to understand a political operation in the White House (for Congress it is a bit easier to understand) that has effectively eliminated the creation and use of policy to rung the Executive Department, but they have done exactly that.

Jerri: They've set up a morgue in St. Gabriel, which is just south of Baton Rouge (Ascension Parish, iirc.) I just saw a segment on CNN about it, and they are taking DNA samples there. (Of course it wasn't a fed talking, but someone with the state.) But how they're going to recover the bodies, and what they're doing in Mississippi, I'm not sure anyone knows.

Yeah, Rick, you're 100% correct about all of that. A great example of their paucity of policy intent and competence was the promotion of Margaret Spellings first to Education policy director or whatever her initial title was, and then eventually to head of domestic policy. I picture her job responsibilities as getting coffee for Grover Norquist and playing with one of those things with the five metal balls lined up and suspended on strings.

On the other hand, can you imagine an alternate world in which Bush, with uncharacteristic prudence, did not eviscerate FEMA? Hurricane Katrina strikes, and FEMA delivers a prompt and effective emergency response. Most of the people stranded in New Orleans are poor and black, but instead of being left to suffer for days, they are quickly rescued, and they attract little attention from the media. Federal authorities keep reporters out of the flooded city, except for carefully staged tours to show where progress is being made, and so many people fail to appreciate the true scope of the disaster. President Bush takes credit for the apparent success, and his approval ratings go up.

Then Rehnquist dies, and Bush quickly appoints a nutcase conservative to replace him. Cindy Sheehan is now forgotten, and the discussion on getting out of Iraq gets pushed back another six months.

Okay, this is just silly speculation, and way optimistic for Bush. But you have to imagine that, if the Bush administration were to mount a serious emergency response, it would be completely integrated with their political machinations. From that perspective, screwing this up amounts to a missed political opportunity. Who knows, Karl Rove might go and strangle Michael Brown himself.

No doubt. Does anyone think Brownie isn't all but gone? And does anyone not think they'll voice sorrow and anger that their usually impeccable appointment process missed his complete absence of any qualification for the job? That YK's alternate scenario didn't obtain is, again (sorry -- broken record here), a reflection of how completely they disdain the very role of government, which I think may actually blind them to their own venality.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Where We Met

Blog powered by Typepad