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Interesting Comment:
A noteworthy comment about the Bush Administration from a profile of Monica Goodling in today's Washington Post:
"The young conservatives who came off the campaign and were new to town with this administration, they've never seen lean times," said a veteran Republican political appointee who declined to be quoted by name saying anything critical of Goodling. "They had no appreciation for what would happen after the Democrats took control and how tough it would be."
  I'm not sure if the issue is "young conservatives" — I tend to think younger staffers are taking their cues from more senior officials — but it is interesting how unprepared the Administration seems to be for the realities of having Congress in the opposing party's hands.
Eric Muller (www):
Interesting observation, Orin. It occurs to me that the Administration's unpreparedness is especially curious in light of the fact that the essence of Karl Rove's genius is supposed to be adversarial.
3.30.2007 10:45am
MikeC&F (mail):
I guess it's forgotten that Ted Olson spend 3mm on legal fees defending himself from baseless partisan attack? "The Attorney General's Lawyer" should be required reading. One need only read that book to get a sense of how Administration lawyers are treated when the opposing party is in power. Hearings, demands for documents, investigations when documents are not handed over (even if there is grounds to withhold the documents), etc.
3.30.2007 11:19am
margate (mail):
Orin/Eric:

I agree with you both.

I'd add, though, that the administration's so-called "unpreparedness" highlights for me a far greater structural concern about how Congress conducted itself from 1/01-1/07.
3.30.2007 11:26am
rarango (mail):
I was struck by what I thought was Ms Gooodling's very shallow resume and marginal legal training and experience (let alone any political experience)--I can imagine she had no feel for beltway politics.
3.30.2007 11:27am
Jeek:
So easy to lose perspective once you're inside the bubble. I am sure Goodling, like many enthusiastic staffers in many previous administrations, has trouble imagining that any person of intelligence and goodwill could possibly oppose her President, who is after all the Best of All Possible Presidents...

rarango, I agree, but I admit I have no knowledge of the type of person who is "usually" appointed to this position. Who was her predecessor, and what experience did her predecessor have?
3.30.2007 11:40am
John (mail):
The problem is simply that one confuses two principles: (A) the new Congress will try to serve the nation's interests, though from a different perspective from the Administration, and (B) the new Congress will try to destroy the President.

I carefully did not mention any political parties, since I think this confusion occurs without regard to party.
3.30.2007 11:47am
cathyf:
Gee, it looks to me like Ms Goodling was quite well-prepared, in pretty striking contrast to the rest of the Administration.

(As a computer once said, "A strange game. The only way to win is not to play.")
3.30.2007 12:04pm
alkali (mail) (www):
I admit I have no knowledge of the type of person who is "usually" appointed to this position. Who was her predecessor, and what experience did her predecessor have?

I think James Comey served as Justice's White House liaison under Ashcroft but his responsibilities may have been more extensive than that.
3.30.2007 12:11pm
r78:
Orin - why is this surprising?

I honestly can't think of any realities for which this administration has been prepared. (With the possible exception of the 2004 election.)

9/11, Katrina, Iraq - where would you begin that list. . .
3.30.2007 12:15pm
Cold Warrior:
The Post describes her transfer from that hothouse of secular humanism, American University, to that hothouse of Pat Robertson's febrile dreams:

Goodling and her lawyer declined to comment for this article, and classmates said they did not recall the reasons for her transfer. But "the curriculum at Regent is different from other law schools. There is an attempt by professors to integrate biblical principles into areas of the law," said Dugan Kelley, who worked with Goodling on Regent's moot court.


Ahh, such delicious irony. She invokes the 5th Amendment because Pat didn't teach her the 9th Commandment.
3.30.2007 12:44pm
donaldk2 (mail):
Maybe it is because my link to page 2 did not work, but is that where the information about her qualifications is? As to her plea of the 5th, I am unable to understand what jeopardy might have been attached to honest answers. To any insinuation that one was part of any improper procedure, I would have defiantly replied that replacement of political appointees is a commonplace executive privilege and not subject of Congressional oversight. Your Excellency. What is this, a rerun of Andrew Johnson's impeachment for violating the Tenure of Office Act?
3.30.2007 12:52pm
Randy R. (mail):
Having worked in gov't many years, I've met the Goodling types. They have this sense of entitlement that they can do absolutely anything that they want, they are answerable to no one, and their judgements are beyond question. Their managers don't much care what these people do, and give them a free rein, until the problems they create start to hit the newspapers and other outside organs.

Then the managers try to deal with the person, who is now so used to unfettered power that they create a problem for the managers. But the Goodling types also know that if they just hang tough, it is highly unlikely anyone is going to fire them. The worst that generally happens is that they get transferred or promoted to a high paying position where they don't have to supervise anyone or do much of anything.

At that point, everyone is happy to have 'solved' the problem, except of course the taxpayer. Trust me, a significant number of gov't employees are paid to sit in an office and not cause trouble for anyone, and the vast majority of them are managers, not the low level employees who actually do the work. (The low levels are the ones most likely to get fired for any reason at all, as Goodling proved with the intern).
3.30.2007 12:55pm
Hattio (mail):
Perhaps they weren't prepared because they truly believed in Grover Norquist's permanent Republican majority. I know that the polls etc before the 06 election should have tipped them off that maybe it was time to prepare for a Democratic majority...but those polls were in the MSM. Which everybody knows is just a Left-Wing mouthpiece. I don't think it's really that surprising at all that they didn't consider that people might not want a permanent Republican majority. This is the administration that is still upset that Iraqis aren't more grateful for our demolishing I mean liberating of their country.
3.30.2007 1:07pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
I'm not sure if the issue is "young conservatives" — I tend to think younger staffers are taking their cues from more senior officials — but it is interesting how unprepared the Administration seems to be for the realities of having Congress in the opposing party's hands.


Okay I'll ask the question, if the Bush administration is an example of an administration that is "unprepared . . . for the realities of having Congress in the opposing party's hands," could you please provide us with an example of an administration that was prepared for the realities of having Congress in the opposing party's hands?
3.30.2007 1:13pm
JosephSlater (mail):
The 20-something me would hate to hear the 40-something me say this, but it's probably true as a generalization that younger folks are more likely to fall for the idea that Their Ideology/Party is Now Permanently Victorious. And, as Hattio says, there really was a lot of "permanent Republican majority" talk around, relatively recently. On the other side, some young Dems are probably already taking the recent Pew poll as evidence that there will soon be a permanent Dem majority, or something like that.

That's the non-partisan part. The partisan part is that this particular administration has often seemed, from the top down, exceptionally arrogant and, partly as a result, unprepared. That's not to say other administrations and folks from other parties haven't exhibited those qualities as well, but this one does seem to stand out.
3.30.2007 1:27pm
SP:
[Deleted by OK. OK Comments: SP, I couldn't tell what you were trying to do with your comment, but it wasn't particularly related to my post and was likely to hijack the thread. So I deleted it.]
3.30.2007 1:28pm
Cold Warrior:
The Post quotes her lawyer's explanation for invoking the 5th:


Explaining why she invoked her right against self-incrimination, her lawyer, John M. Dowd, called the investigation "hostile" and said that some committee members "have already reached conclusions."


I know this is for public consumption and is not necessarily the legal theory behind her taking the 5th.

But I can't see any basis here for taking the 5th. The committee is "hostile" to her? Well, I imagine pretty much everyone dragged into court to defend herself in a civil proceeding is the subject of a similarly "hostile" plaintiff. The Committee may not be favorably disposed to her, but what precisely does that have to do with her ability to answer their questions honestly?

On a totally unrelated point: the Post says Regent University wouldn't allow them to use her official law school photos. No problem. The internet knows all. Simply google "Monica Goodling" and you'll see some photos from a Regent picnic.
3.30.2007 1:31pm
Goobermunch (mail):
Hattio--

I think you're missing the point. How do we know there's a "Democrat Majority?" From the MSM of course. This whole thing is a liberal conspiracy.

In fact, the Permanent Republican Majority is alive and well in Congress. "Speaker Pelosi" and her crowd are just using their unfair connections with the liberal media to distort all the good that the Permanent Majority is doing.

--G
3.30.2007 1:43pm
Ellen:
Cold Warrior:

Catholics and Protestants number the Commandments differently. Your reference will be lost on anyone who learned the that the Ninth Commandment is "Thou shalt not covet thy Neighbor's Wife." That "false witness" stuff was covered in the Eighth. I'm not sure how The Commandments are numbered in Jewish tradition.
3.30.2007 2:01pm
Steve:
Perhaps they weren't prepared because they truly believed in Grover Norquist's permanent Republican majority.

However, the issue to which Prof. Kerr alludes is that a lot of the behavior currently under scrutiny occurred AFTER the Democrats had won the election. It seems like the oversight-free culture had simply become pervasive.

What's odd is that some of the documents produced to Congress contain clear indications that the authors were aware, on some level, of the possibility of scrutiny - references to discussing sensitive issues orally and so forth. Yet at other times, the exact same people appear completely oblivious. For example, Sampson's email in which he says we should "run out the clock" and "gum this to death" but do it all "in 'good faith,' of course" is the type of document that, if I saw it from my own client in civil litigation, would lead me to immediately pursue a settlement.

But, apropos of Thorley Winston's comment above, these sorts of things happen all the time, both in the private and government contexts, when people simply ought to know better regarding the wisdom of putting things in writing. At some point we're just talking human nature. At least they're not, as far as I know, taping all the conversations in the Oval Office any more!
3.30.2007 2:01pm
rarango (mail):
donaldk2: NPR (either all things considered or morning edition) did a piece on Ms. Goodling including an interview with someone who worked with her during her stint in one of the circuit courts. It was on yesterday's show; I am sure you could find it on either ATC or ME.
3.30.2007 2:04pm
David Maquera (mail) (www):
I agree with the premise of Interesting Comment. I am just old enough to remember (and comprehend) how long the GOP spent in the political wilderness with respect to Congress and the Supreme Court. I don't think the younger generation fully appreciates how nasty the liberals and Democrats in DC can be and how nasty, ruthless, and cutthroat one has to be in order to engage in political battle with the leftists in DC.
3.30.2007 2:21pm
eddie (mail):
What would be interesting for the legal educational mainstream to discuss is how they can produce the "best and brightest" who think that "gumming it to death" in of course "good faith" is how an officer of the court should act.

But that would require paying attention to real world ethics without regard to any theological underpinning.
3.30.2007 2:26pm
Derrick (mail):
I don't think the younger generation fully appreciates how nasty the liberals and Democrats in DC can be and how nasty, ruthless, and cutthroat one has to be in order to engage in political battle with the leftists in DC.



Oh, yes those nasty Leftist who might actually demand that an administration hire and fire people based on their performance and not because they weren't loyal enough to the party. Those nasty Leftist who actually want you to tell the truth when going before a committee instead of just being allowed to say that you know nothing. Goodling so far seems as pure as snow with the integrity of Honest Abe.
3.30.2007 3:07pm
Cold Warrior:

Catholics and Protestants number the Commandments differently. Your reference will be lost on anyone who learned the that the Ninth Commandment is "Thou shalt not covet thy Neighbor's Wife." That "false witness" stuff was covered in the Eighth.


Thanks, Ellen. Those Catholic nuns who taught me would not be pleased ...
3.30.2007 3:12pm
Jeek:
I thought it was the one about oxen and other livestock...
3.30.2007 3:52pm
crane (mail):
The one I learned covered both wives and livestock.

"Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his ox, nor anything that is thy neighbor's."

Isn't it nice to live in a culture where women aren't property any more?
3.30.2007 4:06pm
PersonFromPorlock:
You might also want to consider that the Republicans were unprepared to have Congress under their control. They seemed unable to break out of minority thinking even when they were in the majority and their deer-in-the-headlights reputation was established long before last November.

It may be simply that the party is dominated by political incompetents and its present problems are only the latest manifestation of this..
3.30.2007 4:27pm
Steve:
I don't think the younger generation fully appreciates how nasty the liberals and Democrats in DC can be and how nasty, ruthless, and cutthroat one has to be in order to engage in political battle with the leftists in DC.

That's probably because the younger generation knows the Dems as a bunch of accomodating Daschlites as opposed to, say, the unscrupulous street fighters who nearly kept Clarence Thomas off the Supreme Court. Today's Democratic Party is, in fact, quite a bit feebler than it used to be when it comes to raw politics. LBJ is nowhere to be found.
3.30.2007 4:30pm
A psychiatrist who learned from veterans (mail) (www):
You know one of the consequences of the conviction of Scooter Libby is that it doesn't raise an eyebrow, for the casual observer of neither legal or Jacobin mind set, when a government official takes the fifth amendment. It's probably safer for them too than taking the Ninth Commandment.
3.31.2007 2:10am
Stash:
Hmm. Sounds like she had no experience to speak of outside of Bush country. She worked for his campaign, then the DOJ press office, and spent a whole six months in a U.S. Attorney's office. This allowed her authority to force out "many talented career people" along the way to becoming Senior Counsel to the Attorney General of the United States? Not surprising that she got herself in trouble. The Republicans are fond of comparing government unfavorably with the private sector, but at a law firm she'd be a senior associate, or, at best, an income partner. She would not be senior counsel to the firm, or have been given the power to fire other lawyers.
3.31.2007 8:43am
Tiparillo (mail):
Sounds like she had no experience to speak of outside of Bush country.


Sounds like she had all of the experience necessary to excel in this administration - religious faith and loyalty to Bush and party above all else.
3.31.2007 1:34pm
Christopher Cooke (mail):
I do agree with the post. Bush's people, having never had an opposition party conduct oversight of their policies, have not behaved competently with respect to responding to that oversight. I think Ms. Goodling and, more particularly, Mr. Sampson, demonstrate the problem with relying on inexperienced aides whose primary virtue (perhaps it is too harsh to say "sole" virtue) it their loyalty to the cause.
3.31.2007 7:47pm