Saturday, April 14, 2007

Contempt of Government

In an interview with a career Department of Justice employee about the politicization of that department under Alberto Gonzales comes this comment (emphasis mine):

Third, and most significantly for present purposes, there was an almost immediate influx of young political aides beginning in the first half of 2005 (e.g., counsels to the AG, associate deputy attorneys general, deputy associate attorneys general, and deputy assistant attorneys general) whose inexperience in the processes of government was surpassed only by their evident disdain for it.

But the disdain for government in this administration has not been confined to just the Department of Justice. You saw it in the way FEMA was run, in how the Iraq invasion was (un)planned and (incompetently) executed, in the derisive way it has treated the Constitutional duties of the Congress, and in the extraordinarily wide-ranging tendency to write "Signing Statements" that flatly declare they have no intention of complying with the laws they're passing.

Look, I don't have a problem with conservatives who believe government should be smaller. In fact, that's an inclination I generally share. But I do have a problem with people who think government is useless, who have contempt for anything in any way related to government. The last person you want running an enterprise is someone who thinks the enterprise ought not to exist, and yet that's exactly what we've got.

If you think the government should only be responsible for three things, then that's fine. But it ought to be GOOD at those three things. It ought to be efficient in executing those three things. The same is true if you think it ought to be responsible for three hundred things, or three thousand -- whatever you think the proper role of government is, you ought to want it to fill that role well.

I see no evidence that the Bush Administration feels this way, however. From their actions and words, I can only conclude that the disdain the man above sensed from the ill-qualified new DoJ lawyers is but an echo of the same disdain emanating from the top down, a feeling that the only acceptable role of government is to not exist at all.

And that's something I just can't accept. Elect a Republican if you must, but by all that's sane, elect one who thinks the government ought to perform its functions well.

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