Thursday, April 12, 2007

Meanwhile, back in Mayberry...

Sidney Blumenthal's weekly Salon column this time is about Upending the Mayberry Machiavellis 04/12/07. The title comes from the famous comment of former White House staffer John Dilulio describing the Bush White House invoking the mythical small town of the Andy Griffith Show:

There is no precedent in any modern White House for what is going on in this one: a complete lack of a policy apparatus. What you've got is everything - and I mean everything - being run by the political arm. It's the reign of the Mayberry Machiavellis.
Blumenthal writes about some of the more notorious recent members of the administration:

[Laurita Alexis] Doan [head of the General Services Agency]and [Michael] Brown [former head of FEMA, aka, "Heckuva Job" Brownie] are on a continuum of officialdom that runs to Monica Goodling - until recently the No. 3 official in the Department of Justice, an evangelical graduate of Messiah College and Pat Robertson's Regent Law School, and a true believer in Bush as political messiah. Doan and Brown are cronies, but Goodling is a cadre. Within the Bush administration, there are hundreds of Monica Goodlings, and she was their ideal. A zealot for the cause, she apparently divides the world into good and evil, sacred and profane. She interprets criticism and debate as a mortal threat to all that is good and holy. She sees any institution of American life that is not devoted to the flag and cross to which she pledges and worships as twisted, biased and infernal. (To Goodling, CNN is "a force of the left.") She cannot distinguish between her absolute beliefs and their political instrumentality. She considers objective and professional analysis a ruse, an ideology in itself, a false faith. She sees those who adhere to standards of professionalism as agents of deception, hiding their real agendas. She was enthusiastic in weeding out Justice Department employees and replacing them with true believers like herself. Goodling's refusal to testify before the Senate investigation into the firing of U.S. attorneys and her assertion of the Fifth Amendment because the Senate operates in "bad faith" casts her as martyr and saint, warrior and crusader. (my emphasis)
Christian zealots not restrained by maturity, sound consciences and a healthy sense of self-reflection can be very destructive.

Blumenthal describes Rove's aim as being to construct a one-party Republican government, and a federal government completely subordinated to the Republican Party rather than the law and the Constitution:

On the one hand, Rove has sought to forge a permanent Republican majority. On the other hand, that project might not be completed in just two Bush terms. In either case, Rove's strategy has depended on subjecting the federal government to political objectives. He is not trying to achieve any abstract goal, such as reaching the conservative nirvana of limited government. The endless scandals revealed are not a random compendium of corruption and incompetence, though they are that, too. They are evidence of Rove's - and Bush's - larger strategy of hollowing out the federal government in the interest of building a political state. (my emphasis)
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