Gonzales hearings

Another painful experience for everyone involved, including citizen onlookers. (I do plan to have an excellent piece of chocolate on my person at all times when I’m in New York, so I can give it to Josh Marshall should I come upon him.) But I don’t have any insights into the events or their larger meaning that haven’t already been shared across the blog- print- and emrosphere. It’s the same depressing cesspool of cynical disrespect for any institution, complete and insouciant unconcern with principles, floating in a bath of relentless, pervasive incompetence. The ship of state has lashed the wheel hard starboard, cast a blanket over the moral binnacle, and set sail with a crew of landlubbers who don’t know a cleat from a sheet, officered by greedy ideologues who hate navigation and the sea.

What I haven’t seen in print and wish to launch into more common use is the word whine. Seeing Gonzales cowering in front of senators of both parties begging not to be hit again, hiding behind the career Justice staff he’s been trashing and the flimsy shield of “I don’t remember”, and then his boss at every recent public appearance, whimpering for someone to take him seriously as he asserts ludicrous or long-refuted bromides, all I can think of is that these men have adopted a regular speaking style that can only be described as whining. Fran Drescher is funny; these guys just make me want to avert my eyes. God help me, it’s working: I’m starting to feel sorry for these little men (it’s mere coincidence that they’re physically short) who fawned all their lives on big men they trusted to protect them, sold their souls and their honor again and again on instructions from people who seemed to know what they were doing, and find themselves all alone, despised, and cringing under assaults from which Cheney and Rove and the Texas business crowd (for Bush) and Bush (for Gonzales) can’t or won’t shield them.

Author: Michael O'Hare

Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley, Michael O'Hare was raised in New York City and trained at Harvard as an architect and structural engineer. Diverted from an honest career designing buildings by the offer of a job in which he could think about anything he wanted to and spend his time with very smart and curious young people, he fell among economists and such like, and continues to benefit from their generosity with on-the-job social science training. He has followed the process and principles of design into "nonphysical environments" such as production processes in organizations, regulation, and information management and published a variety of research in environmental policy, government policy towards the arts, and management, with special interests in energy, facility siting, information and perceptions in public choice and work environments, and policy design. His current research is focused on transportation biofuels and their effects on global land use, food security, and international trade; regulatory policy in the face of scientific uncertainty; and, after a three-decade hiatus, on NIMBY conflicts afflicting high speed rail right-of-way and nuclear waste disposal sites. He is also a regular writer on pedagogy, especially teaching in professional education, and co-edited the "Curriculum and Case Notes" section of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. Between faculty appointments at the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, he was director of policy analysis at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. He has had visiting appointments at Università Bocconi in Milan and the National University of Singapore and teaches regularly in the Goldman School's executive (mid-career) programs. At GSPP, O'Hare has taught a studio course in Program and Policy Design, Arts and Cultural Policy, Public Management, the pedagogy course for graduate student instructors, Quantitative Methods, Environmental Policy, and the introduction to public policy for its undergraduate minor, which he supervises. Generally, he considers himself the school's resident expert in any subject in which there is no such thing as real expertise (a recent project concerned the governance and design of California county fairs), but is secure in the distinction of being the only faculty member with a metal lathe in his basement and a 4×5 Ebony view camera. At the moment, he would rather be making something with his hands than writing this blurb.