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COGENT PROVOCATEUR:
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the COGENT PROVOCATEUR:
free agent, loose cannon, pointy stick ...
CAMP ENRON:
... gateway to the next Progressive Era?
Some say it's nothing but a train wreck ... roll in the big cranes, clear the track, see what the crew was smoking. If I thought so, I'd not be writing this ... and if they thought so, they'd not be drumming so hard.


OTHER GOOD STUFF:
Many thanks to Tony Adragna and Will Vehrs, still shouting 'cross the Potomac at QuasiPundit. Early Camp Enron material can be found in QP's Dispatches department.
Friday, June 07, 2002

 
--- Homeland Security: Rope-a-Dope? Or "Dude, Where's My Plan"? ---

Why did Bush spring his Homeland Security proposal on an unsuspecting Capitol ... a city that had been crying "give us Homeland Security" for months (or years) on end?

Keeping stakeholders in the dark is a reliable Kiss of Death for otherwise-viable proposals. It's true in Dilbert's world, where most reinventions fall flat anyway -- those that succeed are bought-in before they're trotted out. It's true with a vengeance in government circles, for many good reasons as well as the usual dubious ones.

If he wanted a DHS, GWB had allies across the spectrum ... willing to do heavy lifting and hard bargaining, ready to take some heat, and better-versed in bureaucratic physiology and the surgical techniques entailed in rearranging it.

Instead, he left his own Cabinet in the dark. As far as we know, he avoided input from D.C.'s grey eminences. He alienated 88 committees of jurisdiction (and thus just about every member of Congress). He guaranteed a half-baked organizational blueprint, full of blunders that leave the construction crew laughing up thier sleeves.

If GWB intended to kill the "Department" concept, this would have been an effective gambit ... but there were less costly means to the end. This will cost Bush a king's ransom in the local currency of political capital, and cost him a great deal of embarrassment outside the Beltway. It alienates Bush from many of his own direct reports, weakens them with their subordinates, and raises an aura of courtly intrigue in place of CEO/Cabinet government.

Was it a misdirection ploy, hastily concocted to deflect attention from "who knew what when" questions? Was it a desperate measure to pull Tom Ridge's stature out of a death spiral? These considerations may have driven the precise timing, but they fall short of accounting for a landmark initiative/blunder.

Or could this be a rope-a-dope strategy? On unprepared ground, "The Plan" will bog down in agency infighting and Congressional turf battles for months (playing into a 2002 campaign against "the bureaucracy" and "obstructionist Daschle Democrats") or years (providing a centerpiece issue for 2004, especially if we take another terrorist hit) ... and it will preoccupy Congress, preventing it from focusing on nettlesome domestic issues. Bush may be set to triangulate against Congress and his own Executive Branch!

This could just as well be a clumsy response to the "something must be done" imperative. With virtually no principled oppostion, it's a passable simulacrum of doing something, and Bush -- an org theory bug at Harvard -- may look forward to moving boxes around for the remainder of his term.