The Bush (mal)Administration continues to demonstrate that it is an organizational slow learner. The President and his evil counsellors have yet to figure out that they can no longer get away with the kind of stuff they got away with under six years of a lapdog Republican Congress. With a new sheriff in town, and a stinging election defeat and historic low popularity adding to the usual weakness of a lame duck Presidency, they need to pull in their horns. But they seem to be unable to figure that out.
For example, putting a lobbyist for the National Association of Manufacturers in charge of the Consumer Product Safety Commission would have been routine in the Bushies’ Six Fat Years. And having him take a payoff from his ex-employer on the way out the door, after the fashion of Dick Cheney, would have been no more than natural. The nomination would have sailed through the Senate.
This sort of failure to learn — also exemplified by the Pearl Harbor Day Massacre of the U.S. Attorneys and the subsequent lying to Congress — is characteristic of both people and organizations in the aftermath of a long run of success. The Mayberry Machiavellis could have taken a warning from the original:
A prince may be seen happy to-day and ruined to-morrow without having shown any change of disposition or character … he will be successful who directs his actions according to the spirit of the times, and that he whose actions do not accord with the times will not be successful … if times and affairs change, he is ruined if he does not change his course of action. But a man is not often found sufficiently circumspect to know how to accommodate himself to the change, both because he cannot deviate from what nature inclines him to, and also because, having always prospered by acting in one way, he cannot be persuaded that it is well to leave it.