Well, this is interesting. A report yesterday in the Wall Street Journal that suggests Bush should be seen as the Insurgent President.
Fred Barnes says that, when it comes to the Washington establishment, Bush owes little and cares less. (Barnes defines this establishment as ‘the permanent bureaucracy, much of the vast political community of lobbyists and lawyers and consultants, leftovers from Congress and earlier administrations, trade groups and think tanks, and the media.”) Barnes says Bush has refused establishment blandishments and withheld for them both olive branches and state dinners. Unlike previous presidents, including his father, George W. likes to “infuriate the establishment, most recently by accepting the resignation of its one representative on the inside, Colin Powell.
Apparently, Bush is possessed of a reformational zeal.
The president is girding for battled. Hes aiming to consolidate control of his administration, drive out recalcitrant (read: establishment) elements and make the permanent government heel, especially at the CIA and the State Department.
It is hard to know, and Barnes does not very precisely say, what the Bush agenda will be. But I cant help wondering whether he might not try to do to Washington what he did to the military. As we know, the military, already in the throes of reform, deployed a radically different strategy in Afghanistan and Iraq. The so called “force transformation created a new approach to warfare.
The basic notion behind military transformation is that information technologies allow you to substitute information for mass. (Stuart Johnson, research professor, at the Center for Technology and National Security Policy at National Defense University in Washington, from the MIT article below.)
One example of this approach: tanks weighing 64 metric tons could be largely phased out, giving way to lightly armored vehicles. These may forgo massive size and strength because they are directed by large and fine bodies of information gathered by new sensing, targeting, imaging and communications capabilities.
It is interesting to think about what would happen to the establishment if it was subject to the new principles evident in military (and corporate) reform: flatter hierarchies, devolved power, less mass, more information, more distribution, and an organization that is considerably smaller, faster and nimbler, as a result.
Certainly, this would take care of the growing unease in some Republican camps that Bush is a “big government” conservative. It would also bring the US government into line with the reformation that is taking in and of the corporate world. Just wondering.
last note: I am taking a fair amount of heat for blogging so soon after my wedding. I thank friends and readers for their solicitude, but Pam and I don’t go for our honey moon for some months now. In the meantime, I intend to blog as always, Pam’s suggestion of medication and therapy notwithstanding.
Barnes, Fred. 2004. Bush the Insurgent. Wall Street Journal. November 23, 2004, p. A18.
Talbot, David. 2004. How Tech Failed in Iraq. Technology Review: MITs magazine of innovation. November. Pp 36-44.