It's well-recognized that this is an Administration that prizes loyalty. Those who stay on the reservation are rewarded; those who veer off (Paul O'Neill, Richard Clarke, Gen. Eric Shinseki, to name a few) are dismissed, disrespected, and slandered. We're seeing an interesting shift in loyalties as the White House is rocked by scandal and criticism. However, the first rule still applies: loyalty matters above all.
That's what many feel about the Harriet Miers nomination, that she received it simply as a reward for being a loyal ranch-hand of the President's for so many years. Turns out the nomination was so controversial that it even split up the normally tight-knit Whote House staff:
Veteran conservative columnist and pundit John Fund asserts in the Wall Street Journal today that the offices of Vice President Dick Cheney and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales tried to block the nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court, RAW STORY has learned.
"A last minute effort was made to block the choice of Ms. Miers, including the offices of Vice President Cheney and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales," Fund claims. "It fell on deaf ears."
"Indeed, even internal advice was shunned," Fund adds. White House Chief of Staff Andrew "Card is said to have shouted down objections to Ms. Miers at staff meetings. A senator attending the White House swearing-in of John Roberts four days before the Miers selection was announced was struck by how depressed White House staffers were during discussion of the next nominee. He says their reaction to him could have been characterized as, "Oh brother, you have no idea what's coming."
The trouble between Bush and Cheney may not stop there. Will Bunch
spins some innuendo into speculation about their relationship, but it does have a ring of truth to it. After all, the key players in the CIA Leak investigation are Karl Rove (Bush's brain) and Scooter Libby (Cheney's brain). When the US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald tightens the noose on the two of them and asks for someone to turn state's evidence, you could have an all-out war on your hands. And while he did trudge to the altar of Rush to defend the Miers selection, Cheney has been noticeably absent
of late. I mean, it's like a time warp into the Garfield Administration
. The Stalwarts versus the Half-Breeds.
In a dogfight between the centers of power in the White House (upon which I speculated here
), those most loyal to the President will ultimately win out. That's the driving force behind this entire Presidency. Don't believe me? Are you aware that the National Park Service is administering loyalty oaths?
The National Park Service has started using a political loyalty test for picking all its top civil service positions, according to an agency directive released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Under the new order, all mid-level managers and above must also be approved by a Bush administration political appointee.
The October 11, 2005 order issued by NPS Director Fran Mainella requires that the selection criteria for all civil service management slots (Government Service grades or GS-13, 14 and 15) include the “ability to lead employees in achieving the …Secretary’s 4Cs and the President’s Management Agenda.” In addition, candidates must be screened by Park Service headquarters and “the Assistant Secretary [of Interior] for Fish, and Wildlife, and Parks,” the number three political appointee in the agency.
The order represents a complete centralization of Park Service promotion and hiring in what has traditionally been a decentralized agency. More strikingly, the order is an unprecedented political intrusion into what are supposed to be non-partisan, merit system personnel decisions.
Seriously, does a park ranger have to have a certain ideological agenda to do his job? That's ridiculous. But no more ridiculous that today's photo-op
with soldiers in Iraq, which the President conducted safely ensconced in the White House in front of a giant screen. It was completely scripted so that nobody would go off message. It's another example of loyalty to the cause trumping a real discussion about Iraq, a real exchange of information. To make it worse, the White House Press Secretary then casually lied
about the whole thing:
QUESTION: How were they selected, and are their comments to the president pre-screened, any questions or anything...
QUESTION: Not at all?
MCCLELLAN: This is a back-and-forth.
Here's how the pool report (i.e., from the designated reporter on the scene) described what happened.
The soldiers, nine U.S. men and one U.S. woman, plus an Iraqi, had been tipped off in advance about the questions in the highly scripted event. Allison Barber, deputy assistant to the Secretary of Defense for internal communication, could be heard asking one soldier before the start of the event, "Who are we going to give that [question] to?"
McClellan is another loyal lapdog, parroting whatever spin is available for the day. The price of loyalty, of course, is that it can become so blinding that you fail to notice how hiring the head of the International Arabian Horse Association to run federal emergency management could end up being a problem. I'd rather a Presidency be run on competence and experience than gut instinct. So, I suspect, would the country.