Tuesday, April 24, 2007

How Do I Scandalize Thee? Let Me Count The Ways.

Cross-posted to Raising Kaine

For all the people who wished me well during my recent parotid tumor surgery - Thank You. The surgery turned out far better than anyone could have predicted, and I face the world today with a normal (albeit not very striking) face and a renewed sense of purpose.

From Tom Raum of the Associated Press comes a story of just how many scandals we've seen out of the Bush Administration. Bush Administration Awash in Scandals. Tom Raum points out that

Campaigning in 2000, Texas Gov. George W. Bush would repeatedly raise his right hand as if taking an oath and vow to "restore honor and integrity" to the White House. He pledged to usher in a new era of bipartisanship.

The dual themes of honesty and bipartisanship struck a chord with many voters and helped propel Bush to the White House in one of the nation's closest-ever elections. Americans re-elected him in 2004 after he characterized himself as best suited to protect a nation at war.

Now, with fewer than two years left of his second term, the Bush administration is embroiled in multiple scandals and ethics investigations.
Mr. Raum highlights the Administration's dirty little secret, which is that unquestioning loyalty to President Bush and his neocon ideology trump technical competence, trump effectiveness in government, trump the independent nature of every position from the Attorney General on down. Mr. Raum highlights
Some recent incidents:

- World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz, one of the architects of the Iraq war as deputy defense secretary, acknowledged he erred in helping a female friend he is dating to get transferred to a high-paying job at the State Department while remaining on the World Bank payroll. The revelations fueled calls from the bank's staff association for him to resign.

- Matteo Fontana, a Department of Education official who oversaw the student loan industry, was put on leave after disclosure that he owned at least $100,000 worth of stock in a student loan company.

- Lurita Doan, head of the General Services Administration, attended a luncheon at the agency earlier this year with other top GSA political appointees at which Scott Jennings, a top Rove aide, gave a PowerPoint demonstration on how to help Republican candidates in 2008. A congressional committee is investigating whether the remarks violated a federal law that restricts executive-branch employees from using their positions for political purposes.

- Julie MacDonald, who oversees the Fish and Wildlife Service but has no academic background in biology, overrode recommendations of agency scientists about how to protect endangered species and improperly leaked internal information to private groups, the Interior Department's inspector general said.

Today I spoke to a client who started to complain about the Bush Administration, but then remembered that she was speaking on a government phone from her government agency. This life-time employee has had drilled into her head the separation between political advocacy and the performance of her duties as a government employee. She breathes, thinks, and channels the Hatch Act. You couldn't say the same for Lurita Doan and the other high ranking Bush appointees who have turned their agencies into private sounding boards for and advocates of Bush Administration policies. Wherever one turns there is evidence of undue influence, overreaching, and cooptation of the most essential regulatory federal functions. And then there are the scandals. Does Paul Wolfowitz have a sense of shame? A sense of limitation on his endless sense of right to self-gratification and self-aggrandizement? Is his only qualification to hold his office his unquestioning loyalty to the Bush Administration and the policies which flow therefrom?

What of Alberto Gonzales, the chief apologist for and architect of the Bush Administration's torture policies? Does he have any sense of shame? Is he aware of any obligation other than his unquestioning loyalty, repaid by Bush's bottomless boosterism, to the Bush Administration and its Bill of Rights curtailing Constitution crushing policies?

Today I read of the defection of Pete McCloskey from the Republican Party. He left the Republican Party, to which he and his family had been founding and sustaining members since the time of Lincoln, and joined the Democratic Party, complaining that
it seems that every Republican presidential candidate is now vying for the support of the Pat Robertsons and Jerry Falwells rather than talking about a return to the values of the party I joined nearly 59 years ago.
Traditional conservatives who value the philosophy of the original Republican Party should indeed be worried. They have been replaced by neocon ideologues and members of the new Inquisition and America is much the poorer for it.

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