November 24, 2004

Reform or Purge

As long as I've been reading conservative political stuff (and that's been a long time, two decades now) the State Department has been viewed as a placee where conservatives and their ideas would not get a fair shake. It was viewed, institutionally, as hostile territory and the use of shorthand, even back then, made it clear that by the time I started reading about it, it was an old, old problem. It hasn't gotten better.

The State Department is still a place where conservatives do not like what goes on there, where they view that the mandarinate is viscerally hostile to their initiatives and always fights to reverse them, no matter what their duty is to further the policies of the current administration regardless of party. There's only so much of that sort of resistance that is tolerable in a democratic republic.

When Republicans, and everybody else, viewed themselves as a minority temporarily in charge of the Executive, long term projects such as cultural change in the State Department were viewed as "nice to have" but so long term that undertaking them would probably be fruitless. That was because any progress would be undone by the inevitable next Democrat administration and the Congress, being reliably Democrat, would not defend the changes.

George W Bush is the first Republican president in decades not infected with this self-defeating attitude. He has already undertaken a major change at CIA on these lines and, inevitably, will be doing the same at the State Department.

This is the moment of truth for the US Left. They can either recognize that the State Department (as well as the CIA) has been behaving improperly, stop mau mauing our new Secretary of State, and coordinate efforts to make the civil service more neutral between the parties or they try to defend the biased careerists who think that they can run their department better than the President's appointees. If they do the latter (and there are too many signs pointing that direction already) they are likely to provoke an even harder push to burn everything down to the foundations and build anew. The shorthand for that outcome is a purge. Are Democrats going to be a constructive opposition or will it take a few more losses? I wish I knew.

Posted by TMLutas at November 24, 2004 11:11 AM