Sunday, March 18, 2007

They serve at the pleasure of the President.

Ah, the US Attorney scandal. What a horrible, embarrassing situation: firing officials for not agreeing to pursue an overtly political agenda to solidify your party's control over Washington--and then lying about it.

No matter what side of the aisle you're on, you'd have to agree that this is shameful. Scandalous. Unconscionable. Countervailing, even, the very foundations of the ideal of a democratic state. Right?


See, it doesn't matter how much a traditional conservative like Joe Scarborough may be disgusted by what has gone on here--because you're not dealing with the same Republican Party. No, instead, today's conservative movement has abandoned any commitment to principle and instead gone straight to embracing authoritarianism.

In fact, many on the right not only don't view things like the Attorney scandal as a problem--they openly embrace the methodology in question!

As my main exhibit, I'd like to refer you to a somewhat recent diary on RedState. Now, I know that basing a logical argument on an individual diary at a community site is fraught with problems, but this diary was at the top of the site's recommended list for a good deal of time. I also know that it doesn't take much to make the top of the recommended list at RedState, but that mere fact should speak to the popularity of the opinions featured in the piece.

The other point to be noted is that this piece was written in the aftermath of the Scooter Libby conviction, but before the US Attorney firing scandal got really bad--you know, when it was obvious that they were all lying the whole time.

The diary begins by describing how Republicans have a natural disadvantage when it comes to governing because government was designed for Democrats by Democrats ever since the New Deal (this is not proven in the diary, however). So what's the solution?

The very first thing a Republican officeholder should do after his hand comes off the Bible is fire everyone in the government that he has an arguable legal right to fire - every last one, no exceptions. Some of them may be apolical subject matter experts and you can hire them back - after they kiss the ring. The rest lose their houses and girlfriends. There'll be wailing and knashing of teeth and starving babies on the TV, plenty of commentary about how mean you were to those selfless public servants, but it won't last long. It certainly won't last as long as it would if you waited for them to do something to you and then had to face the "polical retaliation" cries and lawsuits. See the current upset over the federal attornies if you don't believe me.

See, if you're a Republican, what you have to do to counteract the naturally Democratic inclination of government is to fire everyone, including the non-political people, and rule with an iron fist, unless and until they swear a loyalty oath. Because the last thing you want is dedicated public servants knowledgeable in issues who know more about things than you do in their issues of expertise and can tell you what's what. No, instead, you want people who will only do what you say, when you say it, and ask how high they're supposed to jump. We can't have any facts or knowledge running around--there's a well-known liberal bias there.

Of course, see, that only matters if you believe that actually having a staffed government is important at all:

Now every player and lobbyist is going to tell you that you can't disrupt the government like that; it's simply a lie. The only thing you'll disrupt is the contact lists in the lobbyists' Blackberries. The very hardest thing you could do in government is stop it from working. You could fire every political appointee in any government and go on vacation for three months and the only people who'd miss you or them are the lobbyists and reporters.

The day to day operation of government goes on in spite of political management, not because of it. Identify the areas where you must have a change of policy or operations and find loyal, competent people for those areas; leave the rest vacant.

Right. Because as the Walter Reed privatization deal shows...or as the FEMA response to Hurricane Katrina doesn't really matter what goes on at the deeper recesses of government bureaucracy! Government is the problem, not the solution! The less government, the better! Just stock the essential positions like the directors and what not with loyalists like Brownie, and the rest will take care of itself. It's non-essential! Who needs a fully staffed government, anyway? All of those positions were just created to find extra jobs for Democrats. It's just party socialism. Sheesh.

Moving on to organization of departments:

All infrastructure, e.g., personnel, budget, finance, procurement, IT, should be moved to the highest common level and placed under people who are absolutely loyal to you; this is how you control the people who aren't absolutely loyal to you.

Competence be damned, and full speed ahead with the ring-kissing! Oh, and what about that whole corruption thing?

Make it clear that the slighest hint of scandal is summary firing offense. It's tough, but don't defend your people and don't dither; if they misbehave, they're fired - full stop. If the misbehavior involves graft or corruption, they're fired and prosecuted.

Now I admit that this takes a lot of the fun out of governing. After all, if you can't give a contract to a friend, who can you give one to? You'll get some "What the Hell did I help elect you for?" calls, but if you know the business it is easy enough to legally reward your friends and punish your enemies.

Because, of course, governing isn't any fun if you can't engage in a little cronyism, right? I mean, that whole thing about being a public servant and doing the best thing possible for your country and your people--who cares! Because you're the Decider. It's all about you and what you want. Rewarding your friends with the contracts. Putting your personal pets in all the government positions. Firing anyone who doesn't do exactly what you like, because you are the law.

I want to remind you all of something: This diary on RedState did not touch on any issues of policy that could even remotely be described as progressive vs. conservative. Instead, it centers entirely on how dictatorial authoritarianism is a necessary part of a conservative government--because according to the "the deck is stacked against conservatives in government" argument, being authoritarian is an extenuating circumstance for them.

So you see--we're in for a long fight ahead. It's not like most conservative ideologues are disgusted by the authoritarianism of this administration--they view it as necessary.

And we must do whatever it takes to avoid setting a precedent of letting them get away with it.

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