Sunday, July 27, 2008

This Morning's Broder: an Op-Ed of Quiet Desperation

It must be hard, these days, to find something positive to say about George W. Bush. This morning, Broder demonstrates exactly how far one must reach to do so - and he's still completely wrong.

Broder approvingly quotes some bozo who praises Bush for his management skills. He's serious. For the rest of us, there's nothing to do but laugh. Hence the blog title. Let's roll tape:
One of the things Patterson teaches is that George Bush has been a more creative manager than is generally recognized.
I suppose that's one way to put it. Heckuva job, Brownie, Rummy, Gonzo!

Broder continues:
He has added three significant offices to the White House structure -- the Homeland Security Council, the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, and the USA Freedom Corps.
Wow - Bush added some boxes to the White House org chart! How few Presidents must have ever done that before. Creativity in action!

According to Broder, Patterson "also credits Bush with improving the physical facilities of the White House in ways that will benefit the next presidents," such as the Situation Room and the Briefing Room.

That's great, but isn't there some Senior Executive Service-type person, several rungs down, who is in charge of the White House's and EOB's functions as office buildings? This isn't exactly Chief Executive stuff; this is more like Jimmy Carter approving the schedule for the White House tennis courts.

Broder then asks "[t]he obvious question []: If the presidency has been so well managed, how come so many things have gone awry?" and answers himself: "The choice of people and policies is a lot more crucial than tables of organization."

Well, yeah.

To summarize Broder:
  1. Bush was a good manager.
  2. Everything went wrong anyway.
  3. Because Bush screwed up the big things about being a manager.
I'm not even going to try to square that triangle. How does anyone write stuff like this and not know how ridiculous he is? Sheesh.

And even more perennially perplexing, how does someone write stuff like this, and still get hailed as the 'Dean' of the Washington press corps? Only thing I can figure is, they've all had lobotomies.

As a coda, Broder manages a backhanded slap at Bill Clinton:
Patterson says there are lessons to be learned. One of the most important is to understand that "Cabinet government" is a myth. The big issues and the tough choices inevitably come to the White House, so it behooves a new president to spend more time and thought on his White House staff than on his Cabinet -- exactly the opposite of what Bill Clinton did.
I have no idea whether that's true, and I expect it depends a lot on what one means by "Cabinet government,' but those Cabinet secretaries happen to oversee a great deal. The big decisions get made in the White House, but the lesser decisions that determine whether government is actually effective mostly get made in the Cabinet agencies.

And you know what? The government worked when Clinton was President. And it's a total embarrassment under Bush.

But Bush was a good manager, and Clinton wasn't. Only in Broderland.

Addendum: Broder's column was titled, "Management 101 for Senators," based on the notion that U.S. Senators are crappy managers, and shouldn't really become Presidents. Wonder if he complained about that when Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and Ford (former Representative, but why would they be any different?) were President?

At any rate, Obama's clearly demonstrated he can run an organization way larger than his Senate office. His campaign has been brilliant thus far, in execution as well as concept. Meanwhile, on the McCain side, they can't even keep straight whether or not McCain speaks for the McCain campaign with respect to tax proposals. If Broder's test is which candidate needs to take Management 101, there's only one right answer.

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