REPUBLIC OR BUREAUCRACY PART 1: My network proxy at work won't let me send long posts to Blogger... so here is a two-parter:

One of the open secrets of the United States government is that the unelected officials in the federal bureaucracy wield a tremendous amount of power, which they don't always use to enforce the policies of the President and his cabinet. The President is the CEO of the vast majority of the federal government (excepting only the court systems and the various Congressional staff offices), but Presidents come and go every four or eight years -- bureaucrats can hold their offices for decades, and are often impossible to fire regardless of performance. The bureaucracy is also predominantly liberal, for various reasons that I won't get into here.

Because the bureaucracy is ideologically oriented and largely independent of the President (in function, if not technically), it can often be difficult for a President to get these officials to enact the policies that he wants. Oh, they'll give lip service to the President's agenda, but I think we all know exactly how enthusiastically they will implement programs and reforms that go against their own ideological bent. The cabinet secretaries are supposed to supervise the bureaucracy and try to keep everyone in line, but only the top-most levels are appointed by the President and the rest of the management is made up of irremovable public bureaucrats that may or may not follow the President's orders once their supervisor leaves the room.

Defense Secretary Rumsfeld has made quite a few enemies in the military because of various reforms that he has been trying to push through. The military is generally conservative and likes President Bush, but the reforms that Rumsfeld has been advocating (such as eliminating many military support jobs and replacing them with civilian contractors) aren't at all popular with the old school generals. Nevertheless, Rumsfeld has been rocking the boat and making some progress with the changes that the President wants.




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