Friday, May 04, 2007

David Brooks and 90 Percent

David Brooks had a poor column in the NY Times on Thursday. It's couched as advice to Wolfowitz and other Republicans, saying that 90 percent of any bureaucracy they come into are Dems, 90 percent of the media are Dems, etc. Lesson: although some will be partisan, most can be worked with, so work with them.

I quarrel with his figures, as well as the message. The percentage of Dems depends on the bureaucracy (DOD and VA are different than HHS and Education, also much larger). I'd guess that the military is mostly Reps (are they bureaucrats--yes, according to conservative scholar James Q. Wilson in "Bureaucracy".) DOD civilians are likely to be marginally Reps. So was Rumsfeld undermined by the Democratic military and DOD establishment? Obviously not.

For most bureaucracies and most bureaucrats in government, politics are much less important than daily living. The better comparison is to changing managers/coaches on an athletic team. Bush naming Wolfowitz to the World Bank is like Steinbrenner naming a good college baseball man to replace Joe Torre. The new guy has to step carefully.

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