Sunday, November 20, 2005

Sunday Reading

  • David M. Rosenbaum on the excesses of the Bush administration playing hardball politics with policy.

    For years now, critics have complained that the Bush administration is equally cocksure, pursuing its political and ideological goals even when they are in conflict with data collected by agencies, analysis provided by professionals and procedures set by law.

    Last week, this issue seemed to gain intensity as reports of the politicization of the government made the news almost every day. The pileup underscored what seems to be a consensus in political and academic circles – not only among Democrats but also among Republicans who want Mr. Bush to take a strong hand in shaping policy – that this administration seems more willing than its recent predecessors to bypass the bureaucracy to put its mark on government.

    “The Bush administration is certainly not the first administration to do this kind of thing,” said Mickey Edwards, a former Republican congressman from Oklahoma who is now a lecturer at Princeton, “but they seem much more heavy-handed about it.”


    Joel D. Aberbach, director of the Center for American Politics and Public Policy at the University of California, Los Angeles, says the normal government processes have become increasingly if not steadily politicized in the last 40 years or so.

    “It has happened in fits and starts,” Mr. Aberbach said. Nixon, he said, tried aggressively to put a political stamp on government. The Ford and Carter administrations were much less political, but then Ronald Reagan took politicization even farther than Nixon. President George H. W. Bush had less of a political agenda, Mr. Aberbach said. But Mr. Clinton ran the White House like a permanent campaign, and “the people in this administration seem to think they know all the answers.”

    The difference, of course, between the present administration and the Clinton administration was that when you disagreed with Mr. Clinton, you were not routinely accused of treason or “hating America.”

  • Frank Rich on losing two wars for the price of one.

    One hideous consequence of the White House’s Big Lie – fusing the war of choice in Iraq with the war of necessity that began on 9/11 – is that the public, having rejected one, automatically rejects the other. That’s already happening. The percentage of Americans who now regard fighting terrorism as a top national priority is either in the single or low double digits in every poll. Thus the tragic bottom line of the Bush catastrophe: the administration has at once increased the ranks of jihadists by turning Iraq into a new training ground and recruitment magnet while at the same time exhausting America’s will and resources to confront that expanded threat.

    We have arrived at “the worst of all possible worlds,” in the words of Daniel Benjamin, Richard Clarke’s former counterterrorism colleague, with whom I talked last week. No one speaks more eloquently to this point than Mr. Benjamin and Steven Simon, his fellow National Security Council alum. They saw the Qaeda threat coming before most others did in the 1990’s, and their riveting new book, “The Next Attack,” is the best argued and most thoroughly reported account of why, in their opening words, “we are losing” the war against the bin Laden progeny now.

  • Go catch up on the works being posted at The Practical Press.
  • College Life Chapter 7 Part 3
  • Head Coach Blues Part 1
  • Merit Badges
  • Drawing Fear
  • Small Town Boys Chapter 22
  • The Dolphins play in Cleveland today, where it will be 38F. The ‘Fins don’t play well in cold weather. And speaking of weather, Gamma is going elsewhere. Whew.
  • There’s something else going on tonight, too.