by Scoobie Davis
Now we live under a distorted facsimile of Republican conservatism with an attitude toward government that seems cynical and fundamentally nihilistic. This approach was summed up years ago by the right-wing commander and White House advisor Grover Norquist, when he explained his movement’s long-term objective: “My goal is to cut government in half in 25 years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.”
Before drowning it, however, he and his comrades will pick its pockets.
Led by George W. Bush, today’s conservatives have elevated political patronage from a universal and tolerable peccadillo to a public menace. So intent are they on providing lucrative, comfortable federal jobs to the members of their own gang that they have come to resemble the old clubhouse Democrats of Tammany Hall. (The difference is that Tammany, for all its corruption, provided employment and benefits to the poor, while the Bush White House reserves its patronage for the well-fed and well-heeled.) The result is incompetence slicked over with arrogance and inexperience guided by ideology.
Sharing the outlook of Mr. Norquist, the President has scarcely tried to find capable managers for the federal bureaucracy. He shares the radical right-wing objective of dismantling government institutions rather than managing them properly and effectively. At every level, he appoints loyal hacks who possess no relevant qualifications, so long as they share his anti-government ideology.
This is like putting the termites in charge of repairing the house.