Saturday, July 26, 2008

Only Slightly Less Adulatory Than G.W. = Batman....

Here I was, thinking "George W. Bush = Batman" would be the dumbest G.W. editorial I would read this week (not that there aren't valid parallels)... and along comes David Broder to praise G.W. as a brilliant manager. Naturally, he does this by relying upon the analysis of a Republican staffer who served Eisenhower, Nixon and Ford, an "old friend" of his that "probably knows as much as anyone about how to organize the presidency". We're off to a good start already....
One of the things Patterson teaches is that George Bush has been a more creative manager than is generally recognized. He has added three significant offices to the White House structure - the Homeland Security Council, the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, and the USA Freedom Corps. Patterson's judgment is that these "add-ons will most probably be long-lasting," no matter who succeeds Bush.
So Bush singlehandedly expanded the government bureaucracy, and the additional layers of bureaucracy will probably endure? Surely that's sound proof that he's an effective manager - we were told up front what a good delegator he would be, and when he was left with too much responsibility he brought in more people to whom he could delegate. Oh, but it gets better.
He also credits Bush with improving the physical facilities of the White House in ways that will benefit the next presidents. The Situation Room goes back to 1962, but Patterson reports that it was increasingly inadequate until Bush decided at the start of his second term to bring it up to date.
Yes, I can picture Bush consulting with designers and architects, fretting over every detail, and... No, I would venture that if Bush was even involved in decisions to update the White House's physical plant it was along the lines of a petulant, "This place is so '60's. Can we change it?" And other than assuming some degree of petulance, who would want the President that Broder pines for - a guy who wastes his time on remodeling plans at the expense of... what do they call them... Oh yes - his job responsibilities. Broder seems to be taking the position that the generals who wasted their time and of millions of dollars designing "comfort capsules" would be great chief executives.
Bush also ordered an upgrading of the White House briefing room and has launched a much overdue modernization of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building next door.
You mean, somebody said to Bush, "We need to update our facilities," he said "yes", and somebody else designed and implemented the updates? This is what passes for his proof of Bush's management skills? Oh, but it still gets better....
Not surprisingly, the vast expansion in the White House use of the Internet has come during his terms.
Including the machinations by which the White House illegally used RNC servers to hide its email, and conveniently "lost" all of those emails when somebody cried "shenanigans!" Now that's proof that we have a "CEO President".

No, really, Internet growth has been doubling annually. The "dot com boom" that occurred under Clinton was associated with the broad implementation of the Internet in K-12 schools and in colleges. The interns and younger staffers on the Bush team came out of that Internet culture. And Broder wants to pretend that it was somehow Bush's brilliant management that kept them from throwing out their computers, PDA's, cellular phones and Blackberries in favor of, say, carbon paper and courier services? How about a reality check on Bush, Internet genius....
HOST: I’m curious, have you ever googled anybody? Do you use Google?

BUSH: Occasionally. One of the things I’ve used on the Google is to pull up maps. It’s very interesting to see - I’ve forgot the name of the program - but you get the satellite, and you can - like, I kinda like to look at the ranch. It remind me of where I wanna be sometimes.
He's gone "on the google" to view a map and knows there's a program that lets you look at satellite pictures. Yep, he's the vanguard of the Internet generation. Oh, but it still gets better.
But Patterson says there are lessons to be learned. One of the most important is to understand that "Cabinet government" is a myth. The big issues and the tough choices inevitably come to the White House, so it behooves a new president to spend more time and thought on his White House staff than on his Cabinet - exactly the opposite of what Bill Clinton did.
Perhaps it's just me, but isn't something missing from that? As in, "How did Clinton's (supposed) emphasis on his cabinet over his staff make him less effective"? The inference here would presumably be that Bush did the opposite - so where can I find any evidence that his administration was more effective than Clinton's (presuming, that is, we're not limiting the discussion to tax cuts for the wealthy). And, surprise, it's still not over:
Another is to resist the temptation to economize by reducing the size of the White House staff, as Clinton claimed to do. "The issue," Patterson says, "is not how large is the White House staff, but how it is organized, and how professionally it conducts itself."
So Clinton didn't have enough Karl Roves around, and had the misplaced notion that he should spend time making sure government agencies like FEMA were functional? Whereas Bush "fixed" things by bringing in intensely loyal staffers, while completely screwing up his appointments for agencies like FEMA, or the entire Coalition Provisional Authority bureaucracy he set up under L. Paul Bremer to "manage" the occupation of Iraq? Fascinating.... I mean, I can understand the claim that it's good (albeit Machiavellian) management to route White House emails through RNC servers to circumvent public records laws, and to "lose" them when caught in order to avoid complying with the law. But the rest?

"Heckuva job, Brody."

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