Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Bush Legacy

Good generals know that winning a battle doesn't mean winning the war. It means you're going to fight another day. Dropping the metaphor, most of politics is, naturally, focused on the next election cycle. And it's easy to concentrate on the short term gain and lose sight of what's over the horizon. But channeling everything and anything into winning the election is the Republican thing - it's so 2000 – hopefully the Democrats understand that once you win the election you actually need to govern. Along those lines, an insightful post over at Mr. Klein's (though, surprisingly, not by Ezra.):

Even if Democrats take the White House in '08 and are able to install their own political heads, they'll have a staff full of Republican lawyers that have burrowed into the bureaucracy, eager to leak damaging gossip to Congress, slag their new boss, and derail the President. And this is just in one department; we have to assume that similar initiatives have taken place elsewhere in the executive branch. One has to hope that in, say, the Defense Department, political heads will be able to get the career pros to wage war against Bush's former tourists. Otherwise, the PR nightmare may start on day one and never end.

Right. The real danger of the Bush appointees isn't even the havoc they're wreaking now. It's what's going to happen once Bush leaves office and the next administration has to deal with them. They're going to be tucked away into their comfy, supposedly non-political appointments perfectly situated to ruin things through bumbling incompetence or to pervert their instruction to their own twisted agendas. And the Democrats (hopefully) in charge will have no good choices in dealing with them. Either leave them in place where they'll be a network of leakers and malcontents. Or sweep them away. Reappoint as many positions as possible. Marginalize the rest. But that, no doubt, is going to bring up charges of corruption and hypocracy from the right and the media. “After all, these are the same Democrats who were complaining so much about the politicization of the process and here they are doing the same thing once they get in power. For shame.” That's why it's so important, now, to get the message out there about how far beyond the pale the Bush administration has gone. Just how unprecedented his actions are and how they're trampled over long standing boundaries. Whoever comes after him has to be painted as correcting a grave mistake. Not exactly an easy task with our complacent and apathetic media so concerned with keeping the lights off. But although it's difficult, it's critical to establish the proper narrative now instead of waiting for these events to play out.

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