Monday, January 03, 2005

Bush rule: The Revenge of Andrew Jackson

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Contributor: The Cabinet of Incuriosities
... Whatever the roots of Mr. Bush's overriding devotion to loyalty, it partly stems from his disdain for the concerns of old-style meritocrats, the kind of people who wince when the president places his confidence in someone like Mr. Kerik. Mr. Bush has never been comfortable in America's so-called meritocracy. Undistinguished in college, business school and in the private sector, he spent nearly 30 years sitting in seminar rooms and corporate suites while experts and high achievers held forth.

Now it appears that he's having his revenge - speaking loudly in his wave of second-term cabinet nominations for a kind of anti-meritocracy: the idea that anyone, properly encouraged and supported, can do a thoroughly adequate job, even better than adequate, in almost any endeavor.

It's an empowering, populist idea - especially for those who, for whatever reason, have felt wrongly excluded or disrespected - that is embodied in the story of Mr. Bush himself: a man with virtually no experience in foreign affairs or national domestic policy who has been a uniquely forceful innovator in both realms...

... Now that Mr. Bush has won his final campaign and holds high a gleaming national mandate, he can be ever more himself. And for Mr. Bush, personality is destiny. What you do is not as important as whether you are deemed morally sound and trustworthy. In other words, a "good" man - or woman - beats a leading expert every time. Welcome to the new meritocracy.

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