Posted by Damozel | On May 17, 2005, the White House sent a letter to agencies throughout the executive branch instructing them to find jobs for certain 'Bush loyalists.' The passage shows that even if Goodling and Sampson weren't working under direct orders from the White House, they were acting in line with its policies. (NYT) And Larissa Alexandrovna asks the question that is troubling inquiring minds everywhere.
The White House is a building. Who actually sent the memos instructing these activities?
Alexandrovna argues that the trail seems to lead back to Karl Rove...i.e.,the Political Affairs Office.
On May 17, 2005, the White House’s political affairs office sent an e-mail message to agencies throughout the executive branch directing them to find jobs for 108 people on a list of “priority candidates” who had “loyally served the president.”
“We simply want to place as many of our Bush loyalists as possible,” the White House emphasized in a follow-up message, according to a little-noticed passage of a Justice Department report released Monday about politicization in the department’s hiring of civil-service prosecutors and immigration officials....
[T]he message also urged administration officials to “get creative” in finding the patronage positions — and some political appointees carried out their mission with particular zeal....(NYT)
But of course, Rove has denied any involvement with Justice Department decisions. (The Raw Story)
So leave Rove out of it for the moment. It's clear that someone in the White House was urging these officials to pursue a policy of political cronyism.
Law professor from Dickinson University told The New York Times that what's unusual here isn't the desire of this administration to surround itself with political loyalists, but the lengths it was prepared to go to achieve this. (NYT)
“The Bush administration is unprecedented in how systematic the politicization is and how it extends both across the wider organization chart and deep down within the bureaucracy,” Professor Rudalevige said. “They’ve been very consistent from Day 1 in learning the lessons of previous administrations and pushing those tactics to the limit.”
Another law professor from NYU remarked:
[T]he administration...fostered an atmosphere that encouraged blurring the line between politics and policy, as when Mr. Bush gave Karl Rove, his top political adviser, a policy-making role in the White House. That atmosphere, Professor Light said, increased the chances of scandal by over-eager political appointees who ended up embarrassing the president.(NYT)
And the performance of these loyalists shows what happens when you place loyalty over competence: incompetence.
It's clear that that White House liaison Jan Williams didn't understand that her job had requirements beyond pleasing her White House masters---or think understanding it mattered. She tried to give jobs to campaign volunteers and helpful others as 'immigration judges...career jobs subject to Civil Service rules.' (NYT)
Her instructions didn't seem to include any warnings that she should make sure she didn't do that. 'Ms. Williams told the Justice Department inspector general that she had not realized that immigration judges were career jobs subject to Civil Service rules.' (NYT) Not that that's any excuse, of course.
The article also discusses Rove's briefing of agencies on how their policies would affect Bush's electability. (NYT) The Chief of the General Services Agency, which employs many a contractor, eventually had to resign for telling officials that they should think about helping out 'our candidates.' (NYT)
What's sad is that so many people don't even understand why the White House's attempt to become a single monolithic executive entity was so wrong and so dangerous---and all of a piece with its hunger for power.
Larissa Alexandrovna sums it up very nicely: they wanted 'all-over' government. In her piece, she summarizes the trails that lead us back to the Political Affairs office and Karl Rove.
But of course the hope of accountability grows ever more remote.
And Digby writes:
There are follow-ups and hurdles and gaps within the law that allow these people to pervert the Justice Department, use it as an arm of the RNC, put honorable people into jail, and get away with it. Because there's no understanding of the big picture here. (More)
As Patrick Leahy said, 'the Justice Department reports had made clear that “the problems of injecting politics” into decisions that are supposed to be nonpartisan “are rooted deeper than just the actions of a handful of individuals.”'(NYT)
Paul Krugman gets the penultimate word:
[T]here was a combination of power without oversight and a deeply creepy cult of personality (which was obvious long before we got the latest specifics.) I think we were lucky to get out of this with democracy more or less intact. [emphasis added]
Are we so sure that we have?