The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

A Start

The entrenched federal bureaucracy, sometimes referred to as the "deep state," never much likes anyone who suggests that it can be downsized. For that reason, the deep state is one of many constituencies who panicked when Donald Trump began talking about "draining the swamp"—a metaphor that implies that federal inefficiency, corruption, and waste can only be eliminated if the denizens of the swamp (the bureacracy) are reduced in number (and influence). Is it really coincidental that the idea of draining the swamp (DTS) has caused some in the deep state to suffer from Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS)? Hmmm. DTS --> TDS.

James Freeman writes about a past State Department poobah. The poobah penned an article in Politico in which he writes:
As I walked through the halls once stalked by diplomatic giants like Dean Acheson and James Baker, the deconstruction was literally visible. Furniture from now-closed offices crowded the hallways. Dropping in on one of my old offices, I expected to see a former colleague—a career senior foreign service officer—but was stunned to find out she had been abruptly forced into retirement and had departed the previous week. This office, once bustling, had just one person present, keeping on the lights.

When Rex Tillerson was announced as secretary of state, there was a general feeling of excitement and relief in the department. After eight years of high-profile, jet-setting secretaries, the building was genuinely looking forward to having someone experienced in corporate management. Like all large, sprawling organizations, the State Department’s structure is in perpetual need of an organizational rethink. That was what was hoped for, but that is not what is happening. Tillerson is not reorganizing, he’s downsizing.
Wow! It's exceeding rare to hear any mention of the federal bureaucracy and downsizing in the same paragraph. Maybe there's hope yet, even if Donald Trump sometimes acts the idiot on Twitter.

Freeman writes:
The former Obama appointee is apparently so unnerved by the Trump-Tillerson era at State that he lets slip the fact that the career staff didn’t think much of the previous management either, and that the conservative critique of the department is at least partly true ...

Do taxpayers dare to dream? As odd as this sounds for regular observers of the federal leviathan, the new boss seems to be imposing the kind of tough measures often seen at struggling companies, but almost never witnessed at government departments that have lost their way ...

Perhaps the Tillerson method could work at other agencies too. Mr. Bergmann [the poobah] for his part seems to be disappointed that the un-elected career staff has not been able to impose its will on the duly-elected political leadership ...

Here’s to making the will of voters more than just a distant concern—and highly relevant to the work of federal agencies.

Meanwhile over at the Environmental Protection Agency, new boss Scott Pruitt is not just draining the bureaucratic swamp in Washington, he’s taking away the agency’s power to oversee swamps nationwide.
There's an old anti-lawyer joke that somehow seems appropriate at this point:

Q: What do you call 1,000 lawyers at the bottom of the ocean?

A: A start!

Maybe what we're seeing is "a start."