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Bush "Management Style"

It is a great shame that the New York Times put Bruce Bartlett's temporary weblog behind its "Times Select" paywall. Here's a good piece on Bush "management style":

Bruce Bartlett - The Right Stuff - Bush Plays the Same Old Hand - New York Times Blog: [I]n 2002, Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill was publicly fired -- along with Larry Lindsey, Director of the National Economic Council -- in a fashion that suggested there was more to it than a mere desire to change staff. Why Bush could not have... allow[ed] them to leave with their dignity intact has never been explained.... Both would have resigned in a heartbeat if they knew that the president was displeased with their performance. Both deserved to have Mr. Bush himself tell them they were out. The firings sent a message to everyone in the administration that they were expendable and could be dispensed with at a moment's notice. They would not even be permitted the face-saving gesture of quitting for "personal reasons" if Mr. Bush thought there was some benefit to publicly throwing them overboard. The effect was to dampen what little initiative and independence might have existed within the administration....

John Snow, got the message that he must not take the lead on any issue.... His only job seems to be greeting every new economic statistic as if the nation had won the lottery.... Mr. Bush's managerial style has been manifestly unsuccessful... yet there is no indication that he will change his approach.... Mr. Bolten will do his job with ruthless efficiency, for he is the truest of Mr. Bush's true believers. I know this because I have observed it firsthand.

Josh Bolten and I often worked together during the George H.W. Bush administration... a couple of years into the current administration, I saw him at a reception. I had just started writing some mildly critical things about some of Mr. Bush's policies, like the Medicare drug program, which I thought was unaffordable. Up until that time, I had been almost entirely positive in my writings about the administration. So I was taken aback when I went up to Mr. Bolten to say hello and he pointedly turned his back on me and walked away. I guess he thought he was punishing me for my criticism. All this did was confirm my growing belief that Mr. Bush would ultimately be a disaster for the Republican Party and the conservative movement.

The funny thing is that I was treated far better by Bill Clinton's people while he was in office, even though I almost never had a good word to say about their positions. To their credit, they really believed in what they were doing and were almost evangelical in their desire to explain why it was right, even to Republicans like me who were unlikely to ever embrace their message. I have no doubt that if I had come across Gene Sperling, one of Clinton's closest economic advisers, at such a reception, he would have come straight at me with a laundry list of facts and arguments for why I was wrong to be critical. I would have been invited to the White House mess to carry on the conversation, and I would have left with an armful of studies and statistics explaining the virtues of whatever Clinton program I was attacking.

By contrast, the Bush administration never provides its supporters with any ammunition... beyond the endless repetition of the day's talking points...