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                                       politics + culture

Thursday, April 19, 2007

excuses Gonzales

Every organization has committees and deputies and assignments and meetings and reports. It's a logical fallacy and a sleight of hand for an executive trying to defend their performance to point to those aggregated committees, deputies, assignments, meetings and reports and attempt to make them stand in for that executive's success or failure with regards to outcomes and results in a given matter at hand.

Any fool can have a meeting. We assume all organizations do. Executives are charged with the ultimate responsibility for outcomes and accept that standard as a basis for judging their performance.

Everyone who has ever worked in an organization knows that the "slackest" most "incompetent" and even "lying" and "corrupt" managers will be able to point to deputies who were "working on" things and committees that "considered things." Everyone who has ever sat in an organizational meeting knows the difference between a manager who makes executive decisions with a command of the facts at the time of the decision and a manager who is simply post facto covering his or her ass.

Alberto Gonzales's defense is:

a) he doesn't really remember the firings
b) he delegated almost everything
c) other people gave him recommendations
d) however, AG Gonzales has now done a bit of homework and can offer generic reasons for the firings based on facts he learned AFTER the firings were undertaken
e) and, when all else fails, Gonzales insists that "we" at the Department of Justice were just doing our jobs, and any criticism of "us" is somehow inherently a criticism of our mission.

It is no small irony, however, that Gonzales's own mismanagement of the Department of Justice exhibits the very same weaknesses and lack of executive acuteness he is using to retroactively justify the dismissal of some of the US Attorneys. That alone is grounds for removal from his post.

Gonzales doesn't sound like a U.S. Attorney General up there. Muddling retroactive justifications should not "cut it" from the United States top enforcer of the law. Lies to Congress, of course, are always unacceptable.

More than anything, Gonzales sounds like the VP of a mid-level, money-losing company who is about to lose his job, and deservedly so.

UPDATE: it goes without saying that semi-unrepetent incompetence is also an excellent way to cover up for underlying willful wrong-doing. The public is often willing to cut some slack for "human" and "institutional" failings they might not be so forgiving of if they learned what those failings were used to hide.

This "hey, look over there" technique has been the Bush Administration's m.o. for years now. The Gonzales testimony is but one more exhibit of the "distract and deny" methodology at work in the Bush White House. At some point most folks realize, like in the real world that most of us live and work in, one is judged by results and outcomes on the public record.

Oversight will not be friendly to George Bush, Dick Cheney and Karl Rove. Alberto Gonzales has already learned that hard fact.


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