Saturday, September 10, 2005

Ideology vs Competence

Here is Avedon Carol quoting Eric Alterman quoting somebody who calls himself "Stupid":
Who is all this Katrina criticism helping to elect in 2008: Hillary/Richardson or McCain/Giuliani? Sure, I feel the rage about this: the incompetence, the racism, the arrogance, all of it. But let's not forget that Dubya isn't running in 2008! Making this all about him and not the --ideologies-- behind FEMA's non-response will only land a glancing blow on the GOP.

Good point. Whether George W. Bush is incompetent or not, we are, unfortunately, stuck with him until January 2009. That's another reason not to focus too much on Bush's competence. In the minds of many people, the word "competence" brings up issues of personal virtues or lack thereof. The personal qualities of George W. Bush are all water under the bridge now, or over the levees as the case may be.

The more important question for the future is to what extent do ideology affect competence? More specifically, is George W. Bush's kind of incompetence unique, or can we expect a different Republican President to be incompetent in the same way? I believe that Republican ideology (or at least a particular type of Republican ideology) makes it much more likely that a politician will be incompetent about certain things.
  • If you are convinced, for ideological reasons, that government can never be a force for good in the country, then you are very unlikely to use it as a force for good. If you believe that evolution and global warming are myths, then you are very unlikely to base your policies on sound science.
  • If you believe that there is no such thing as "competent government", then you are more likely to appoint your pals to positions of power without regard to their qualifications.
  • If you believe that diplomacy is a farce, then you are unlikely to appoint someone with diplomatic skills to be ambassador.
  • If you believe that environmentalism is foolish, then you are unlikely to appoint qualified people to the EPA.
  • If you believe that the economic health of the country depends on the prosperity of the richest people and the biggest corporations, then you are likely to rely on tax cuts to these groups as your major economic policy.
  • If you believe that diplomacy is a waste of time, and that the military is the purest and best expression of American greatness, then you are much more likely to get us into wars.

We (that is, people who agree with me) need to point out, again and again, that ideology affects competence.


Anonymous Rich said...

Whether George W. Bush is incompetent or not, we are, unfortunately, stuck with him until January 2009.

I guess you agree with me, Daryl, that it's unlikely that the President would be impeached, during wartime, and that even if he were, it's not likely to lead to an improvement. From the Barre VT Times-Argus: Changing of guard makes good sense. It also seems improbable that some kind of violent removal could occur, given the feelings about security these days.

11:37 AM  

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