Scooter’s guilty: Was justice served? Cast your vote in the Nation Poll–and tell us why.
Well, they nailed Scooter. The news of I. Lewis Libby’s conviction had hardly been out on the Internet before the Democrats were letting loose with war whoops of delight. “It’s about time someone in the Bush Administration has been held accountable for the campaign to manipulate intelligence and discredit war critics,” quoth Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid.
To which some thoughtful people will reply, “Pipe down, Harry, there but for the grace of He or She whose name may not be invoked on some but not all public occasions goes you or one of your Democratic pals.”
The story behind the story of Libby’s conviction is that he should never have been in Washington in the first place. What was his job? He was the chief of staff of the Vice President and the Vice President’s National Security Adviser.
Why does a Vice President have a chief of staff? The Vice President has no administrative functions. Why does he need a staff or a chief to run it? And why should he have a National Security Adviser? The President already has one. Why should the Vice President have one, too?
History shows that Vice Presidential aides and staffs either occupy their time by feuding with the President’s staff or by being up to no good à la Scooter.
If Libby does not get pardoned by George Bush and goes to jail, it is because he had a bunch of grand titles but no real work to do, and so he did mischief. You know the saying about idle hands and the devil’s work.
The executive branch of government is weighed down by important-sounding titles and offices. The layers of useless sinecures assure ineffectual government by persons with fancy titles who spend their days at intrigue and nasty games.
This is not curmudgeonly grouching. Read the work of Paul C. Light, NYU Wagner’s Paulette Goddard Professor of Public Service. Light has spent a lifetime studying the federal government and modern organization in general.
Besides bigness and badness in government, Light points a finger at this phenomenon of many layers of authority, or what he calls thickening: “The thickening of the hierarchy has obvious impacts on the operation of government, most notably in the movement of information upward and flow of command downward. And its impact on public confidence is obvious. No one is ever held accountable for government performance because no one can be held accountable, whether because single vacancies anywhere in the chain of command can produce long delays in the movement of information and guidance, or because each stop in the hierarchy creates at least some delay, however brief it might be.”