The perils of cronyism

David Frum has lots of good thoughts about the firing of the eight U.S. attorneys and where things stand for Alberto Gonzales. I agree with his all of his points except for his concurrence with the Washington Post’s suggestion that Gonzales should seek an earlier date for his congressional hearing. This “scandal” was ginned-up by the Senate Dems, and Gonzales’ mistakes, which have also been overblown, don’t justify treating this matter with that sort of urgency.
David’s final observation — “staffing a government with cronies is dangerous to everybody, including the cronies themselves” — is perhaps his most interesting. Arguably, Bush has been unlucky on the crony front. Not because his cronies let him down, that’s to be expected, but because his cronies were good enough to let him down. Bill Clinton gave top government lawyer jobs to a pair of cronies — his wife’s law partners Webster Hubbell and Vince Foster. Both were chewed up very early and departed before they could do Clinton much harm (the substantial harm done by Clinton’s primary crony, Hillary, occurred during the first two years and led her to her early exile from policy-making). But Bush’s cronies, Gonzales and Harriet Miers, were in only slightly over their heads, I think, and thus remained influential deep into the Bush presidency.
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