Clicking on banner ads enables JWR to constantly improve
Jewish World Review March 9, 2001 / 14 Adar, 5761

Michael Ledeen

JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
James Glassman
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Jackie Mason
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

Time for a good, old-fashioned purge -- ONCE upon a time, civil servants resigned when they had manifestly failed in their mission, and political appointees routinely handed in their resignations when a new administration took office. No one had to tell them about two basic principles of good government: When you make a major blunder, you take responsibility for it. And when the party that gave you your job gets beaten, you're beaten too, so clean out your desk.

No more. Now they all stay on until someone higher up tells them to ship out.

I'm thinking, for example, about Martin Indyk, still hanging on as ambassador to Israel. Indyk is one of the masterminds of the awful mess that was Clinton's Middle East policy, and a particularly meddlesome ambassador (he openly campaigned for Barak in the last Israeli elections). That makes him a two-fer: both a political appointee of the last administration, and an architect of a failed policy. He should have resigned long since, and rejoined the chattering class from which he came. Instead, he has remained in place, and just the other day delivered himself of yet another sermon to the Israelis about how they should behave. There are lots of these lame-duck ambassadors around, shopping for jobs, collecting favors, pronouncing on this and that, pretending to speak for the new administration, or, like our man Foglietta in Rome, publicly bemoaning the defeat of his buddy Al Gore.

I'm also thinking about Louis Freeh. He's a good man, but any FBI director who fails for five years to detect a high-level KGB penetration of his agency really must go. If not, all semblance of accountability is gone.

But no one resigns as a matter of principle, so they have to be fired. This is not entirely bad news, for it permits our new president to show that he well understands the answer to Machiavelli's first question for all leaders: Is it better to be more loved than feared, or more feared than loved? The winning answer is: Both can work, but fear is much more reliable.

A new president who wields his personnel scythe with abandon sends a message through the entire bureaucracy, with all kinds of positive ripple effects. Just as Ronald Reagan's purge of the air controllers showed he was a real leader who would not shrink from a fight, a good old-fashioned purge by the new administration will do wonders for the loyalty of its bureaucrats. George W. Bush should tell all the political ambassadors to submit their resignations, and turn the embassies over to their professional deputies. Replacements can be appointed in the fullness of time.

All the heads of our intelligence services should be fired, on the grounds that it took us 15 years to realize there was a KGB agent at the highest levels of the intelligence community. And all the political and military heads of the military services should be fired, since they cooperated in the relentless degradation of our power conducted by Clinton, Cohen and the others.

Indeed, Bush should simply remove all the political appointees of the Clintons. True, a few good people will fall along with those who enthusiastically supported the last administration, but on balance Bush — and the country — will come out way ahead. As things stand, there are hundreds of Clintonians at high levels of the system, still pushing the policies that Bush and Cheney campaigned against, from the environmental whackos issuing ukases to institutionalize the Kyoto Treaty to the radical feminazis still clamoring for "gender equity" in all walks of life, to foreign-policy types on the National Security Council Staff and throughout State, CIA, and Defense, who are still trying to create Bill Clinton's legacy in the Middle East, or deliver Taiwan to the People's Republic of China, or hamstring the Iraqi National Congress despite congressional insistence that it be fully supported.

Some will worry that a full-blown purge will weaken the government, and they will argue that it is best to leave the current officials in place until their successors can be named. I see that "weakening" as one of the many benefits of the purge. Life may be better, indeed far better, with fewer men and women busily finding things for the government to do. If that is not compassionate conservatism, what is?

JWR contributor Michael Ledeen is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and author of Tocqueville on American Character . Comment by clicking here.


03/06/00: Powell’s great (mis)adventure
02/26/00: The Clinton Sopranos
02/20/00: Unity Schmoonity: Sharon is defying the will of the people
01/30/00: The Rest of the Rich Story
01/22/00: Ashcroft the Jew
01/11/00: A fitting close to the Clinton years
12/26/00: Continuing Clinton's shameful legacy
12/21/00: Clinton’s gift for Bush

© 2001, Michael Ledeen