There are any number of theories as to why government doesn't work these days. Lewis Gould's article, "Stop the Campaigning," in today's Washington Post has some interesting suggestions. A number of his arguments ring true.
Stage-managed events, orchestrated by masters of spin, provide the appearance of a chief executive in charge of the nation's destiny....
The Bush team brought its campaign skills from the 2000 presidential contest into the White House and never stopped its reliance on these methods.
The realities of governing are much different than campaigning. As Gould says, "Campaigning is easy, governing is hard."
Age teaches us that just when we think we have all the answers, we are likely setting ourselves up for a series of hard lessons that show us just how little we know.
Bush attained (particularly in the minds of his base) a status that embraced both the imperial and in some cases the quasi-deified. Why then become involved in the details of running a government from the Oval Office? Appoint the right Republicans to key posts, and the federal government would run itself while providing an unending source of patronage for supporters, contracts for friendly businesses and the sinews of perpetual political dominance.
Just as the details of running a business are key to long term success, attention to the details of the US Government make the difference between success and failure. Appointing unqualified people to important jobs often leads to failure or even at the best, less success than necessary for the health of a business or the body politic.
I can remember the criticism of Al Gore that he was too detailed oriented and too much involved. How ironic that we are now saddled with a leader whose crisis involvement is often limited to a media event.
In spite of the failure to meet the challenges governing, all the deaths in Iraq, and the insane policy of creating debts that will end up on the shoulders of great grand children, still well over one third of this country thinks this administration is doing well. Perhaps their knowledge of the world around them is limited to carefully crafted media events.
Interestingly Gould lays some of the blame for poor governance on the media.
The Bush presidency will end in three years, but the larger problems revealed by his faltering second term will remain to plague the nation. There is as yet no meaningful evidence that the president, Congress and the media are prepared to abandon their infatuation with continuous campaigning as an alternative to actual operation of the federal government.
I for one am not looking for a government that will entertain me. I would like one that makes efficient use of the money they seem to determined to take from me. I would like to see greater protection of the environment, a "moon landing" style challenge to develop alternate energy resources, investment in our crumbling infrastructure instead of foreign wars, and a policy that makes it attractive for countries to bring jobs to the US instead of ship them to foreign countries. I also believe that regaining our competitiveness means developing single payer health care which includes coverage for everyone. I'm not looking for a welfare state, I just want a fair state which is one where the ultra rich end up paying much of their billions in stock options back to the country that created a system which let them become so rich. As long as we leave them with a hundred million or so to live on each year, they should be fine.
Unfortunately I think we have a long way to go. As we continue down a road to a society with increasing numbers of people who will never have a chance to better themselves because of the disappearance of those class busting manufacturing jobs, we have got a long way to travel before things start to get any better. Our whole country rests on the belief that with education, hard work, and a fair opportunity, you can not only better yourself, but also put your family on a road to a better future.
We need to make keeping that dream alive a national priority.
Politicians often brag about how history will view their decisions in a different light. Aside from the fact that our current politicians are ever more allergic to tough decisions, I think that boast might be a challenge for this administration. Even a year ago in an article by Robert S. McElvaine, "Historians vs. George W. Bush," it was clear that those who will likely be writing the history of this era were already leaning in one way even before the dark days of 2005.
A recent informal, unscientific survey of historians conducted at my suggestion by George Mason University’s History News Network found that eight in ten historians responding rate the current presidency an overall failure.
That's pretty impressive considering that at the time nearly 50% of Americans supported the President. It's interesting how times have changed.
I wonder if any of those still clinging to this administration believe that the record $36 Billion in oil company profits are just a coincidence and have nothing to do with an administration full of oil men? Perhaps some of them would be interested in a slightly used bridge that I have for sale.