Monday, September 18, 2006

George W. Soprano

We always knew that the Bush administration was like the mafia-- the code of omerta, the mysterious backtracking the day after a prominant critic goes public, concern with maximizing the profits of its "business partners", and, of course, keeping everything in the family. On the latter front, Rajiv Chandrasekaran penned a nice article in the Washington Post detailing the how the administration chose people to spearhead the reconstruction of Iraq. Bottom line: experts out, hacks in. The key question interviewees were asked was whether they voted for Bush and whether they supported his "war on terror".

Some of the results? A 24-year old with no finance background was put in charge of the stock exchange-- with disastrous consequences. And: "The daughter of a prominent neoconservative commentator and a recent graduate from an evangelical university for home-schooled children were tapped to manage Iraq's $13 billion budget, even though they didn't have a background in accounting." And, in what seems particularly criminal, a health expert was replaced with a hack to to oversee the rehabilitation of Iraq's health care system. His main concern was trying to end the system of free health care in Iraq, and limiting the drugs that could be covered. The result? "Baghdad's hospitals were as decrepit as the day the Americans arrived." And who can forget Bernie Kerik's, Guiliani's protege, and former New York City's police commissioner. He was supposed to rebuild the Iraq police. The problem was, he shared Bush's disdain for details and actual policy work. Instead, he went out on night missions, gave speeches to the media, and slept during the day.

Chadrasekaran emphasizes the bubble-like mentality within which these hacks operated. The had no conception that Iraq was any way different from suburban America. The most telling quote was when one of them claimed to be there not for the Iraqi people, but for the Dear Leader (that would be George W. Bush). And that kind of sums it all up.

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