Dan Froomkin of the Washington Post is a leftwing editorialist I don’t commonly agree with, but I think the opening, at least, of today’s column hits the nail on the head.
The last two times the Pew Research Center asked people to describe President Bush in a single word, chief among the overwhelmingly negative responses was the word “incompetent.”
What makes that particularly fascinating is that it’s a realization that the public has reached pretty much on its own.
Unfortunately, Froomkin then goes right off into leftwing subjectivity land, repeating the usual memes about unsatisfactory management of the war in Iraq, failure to perform Moses-level miracles on flooded New Orleans, and (quelle horreur!) actually trying to appoint Republicans to DOJ positions.
Froomkin essentially takes the opposite of the facts as his basis to lambaste Bush.
Iit’s well past time to ask ourselves: What has Bush done to our government?
Bush’s two top advisers — Vice President Cheney and just-departed political guru Karl Rove — made little secret of their desire to have the wider federal bureaucracy serve their purposes. But just how much has the exertion of absolute White House political control, through a network of loyalists put in key positions, damaged government agencies’ ability to accomplish the tasks the American people expect of them?
How many long-time senior career employees have been marginalized, micromanaged or driven out of government?
Unfortunately, the real reason Americans think Bush is incompetent is precisely the reverse. Americans have concluded that Bush is incompetent because he cannot defend his own Attorney General when he tries to replace some federal attorneys. They believe that he is a weak leader because he could not compel large portions of the State Department and the Intelligence community to support his policies.
This president did not succeed in replacing disaffected senior officers in the CIA or reforming the Agency, and when National Security information was leaked repeatedly in the New York Times and Washington Post, no one was ever prosecuted or punished.
On the other hand, his adversaries successfully managed to criminalize even questioning the bona fides of Ambassador Wilson’s testimony, and succeeded in convicting the Vice Presidential Chief of Staff of perjury in a case where no crime could possibly ever have occurred. It was George W. Bush himself who appointed the man who aimed the torpedo at the midships of his administration. Bush made James B. Comey (Martha Stewart’s nemesis) Deputy Attorney General, and when John Poindexter (angry at not being reappointed) called for a washbowl and a towel and recused himself, James B. Comey selected the special prosecutor.
Bush is not incompetent because he tyrannically remodeled the bureaucracy. He is incompetent because he has failed to get control of the government he was elected to head, and because he has failed both to punish his enemies and to defend himself and his friends.