Using the CPA as a patronage dump

The Coalition Provisional Authority is full of GOP party hacks and the unqualified children of Bush campaign contributors: or so one of Glenn Reynolds’s correspondents reports.

So the CPA press office in Baghdad is stacked with Republican campaign operatives. No surprise, I suppose, but pretty depressing nonetheless. And it does suggest treating press releases from the CPA with extreme caution.

Comparing the story itself with Glenn Reynolds’s spin on it is good for a laugh: by converting “21 out of 58 people have demostrable ties to active Republican politics, including the boss, who’s veteran campaign flack” to “21 out of 58 people are Republicans,” Glenn tries to make a serious charge look frivolous. Good lawyering, I suppose — as long as opposing counsel doesn’t catch you at it — but bad journalism.

However, to his credit, Glenn is prepared to pay attention to evidence contradicting his position, and unearths a bombshell:

On the other hand, a reader who for obvious reasons would rather remain nameless, has this rather negative report. He’s a guy I’ve corresponded with more than once, and he looked into taking a job with the CPA. This is what he heard from people he considers knowledgeable, who are not journalists:

They all came back to me with the same story. Go if you want, but know what you are getting into. And what you are getting into is a completely incompetent organization. They had a high opinion of Bremer, but other than that, nothing. In particular they highlighted the presence of political appointees – sons of prominent Bush contributors, quite often – who had absolutely no qualifications whatsoever for their jobs and were doing disastrously poor work there.

They also commented on a really pathological culture where anyone, anyone at all, who in any way dissented from the party line on any issue was harshly suppressed, with their careers ended on more than one occasion. So if a third of the people in the press office are connected to the Administration, then the AP has (in my opinion) started to nose around the edges of a real story.

Remember when the Democrats didn’t want to let Bush and Rove use the Department of Homeland Security as a patronage farm and insisted that normal Civil Service rules apply? Well, now we see why. I wonder if DHS is as full of hacks as CPA? Some journalist might want to find out.

And the claim that lots of children of Bush contributors have jobs at the CPA ought to be easy to check. By comparison with hiring contributors’ idiot children for vital work, inviting the contributors to stay the night in the Lincoln Bedroom seems rather harmless, doesn’t it?

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

One thought on “Using the CPA as a patronage dump”

  1. Operation Infinite Resolve

    I don't have a good feeling about this. I hope I'm wrong, because if this turns out badly, the repurcussions could be extensive. Let's hope they follow through with

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