In or Out?

It’s like the cool kids. The “in” crowd. The OC or Beverly Hills 90210. The ones that the high-school Alphas take into their circle. You know, like the Bushies.

Between shutting out career Justice Department lawyers, inexperienced appointees at NASA telling scientists what to say, putting political appointees in charge of all regulatory policy undercutting career staff and experts, and, overall, increasing the number of Schedule C–political appointments the wagons are circled tightly.

Today’s WashPost and others report that Monica Goodling–former Justice Department official and of the 5th Amendment fame–may have questioned applicants for career jobs about their political affiliation. I guess she was thinking, “If you’re not with us, you’re against us.” Or something.

It’s very discouraging for career civil servants to be ignored. Not invited to meetings. Not consulted or overridden in their areas of expertise by inexperienced political hacks. To be told by a senior agency official, “I don’t know you [federal worker], but I trust the political appointee to my right” really makes for a bad meeting.

Lots of the Politicals are terrific public servants. But if the main qualification for critical jobs, like rebuilding Iraq, is ties to the Bush-Cheney campaign, something is amiss. If leaders in political jobs do not trust career staff, if career staff are seen as lazy bureaucrats, if career staff are outside of the decision making process we have government by the seat of our pants and government being pulled out of a youthful buttocks. Oh, and wasting a bunch of resource$$.

Ultimately, the important work of governing suffers. The Bushie A-Team is long gone, and many agencies are being led by the 5th stringers or vacancies. Yet there is work to be done–in education, health care, terrorism response, information sharing, the environment, poverty eradication, immigration reform, international relations, support for returning and especially injured veterans and much more.

But it looks like we might have to wait for the remaining Bushies to vacate their posts. What a shame when there are so many good people–many of them career civil servants who are also Democrats, Republicans, Independents or Other –who are so ready to do real work.

High school is over! The OC and Beverly Hills 90210 have been cancelled.

Toles Cartoon (c) Wash Post

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