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By HAL BROWN
It may be a part of human nature to try to reward your friends and punish your enemies. This happens in government when administrations change. It comes with the job and it’s expected. There is a point, however, when this is taken too far. This is when those elected by the people to serve them use their power to reward and punish to hire less than the best person for a job and fire highly competent officials.
Here are two examples.
“I didn’t give them what they wanted. That was probably a political problem that caused them to go to the White House or whomever and complain that I wasn’t a team player.” fired New Mexico U.S. attorney David C. Iglesias who is alleging that political pressure from Republicans related to a criminal investigation played a role in his dismissal.
Sam Fox has been nominated to be the new U.S. ambassador to Belgium. He’s a wealthy businessman who donates heavily to Republican causes and gave $50,000 to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign of lies which were instrumental in the defeat of John Kerry.
This is but a small part of what he said under intense questioning by Senator Kerry:
Kerry: So, again, I ask you the question, do you think now that you and others bear responsibility for thinking about where we put money in American politics? What we’re saying, what we present to the American people — is truth important or isn’t it?
Fox: Senator, if I had reason to believe and if I were convinced that the money was going to be used to, in any untruthful or false way, knowingly, I would not give.
This isn’t to say that Democrats don’t do the same thing. Some of the House appointments by Nancy Pelosi come to mind. But she a virtual amateur compared to Bush and his administration.
The Bushites have run amok tossing rewards and punishments with abandon.
The Bush White House runs the government like Mayor Richard J. Daley ran Chicago and its Democratic machine, although hardly as efficiently. They have given out so many political plums to unqualified people that it’s a testament to career civil servants that our government hasn’t fallen totally apart.
Administration punishments range from firing officials like Mr. Iglesias to this unbelievable piece of news as reported in The Army Times:
Soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical CenterÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Medical Hold Unit say they have been told they will wake up at 6 a.m. every morning and have their rooms ready for inspection at 7 a.m., and that they must not speak to the media.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Some soldiers believe this is a form of punishment for the trouble soldiers caused by talking to the media,Ã¢â‚¬Â one Medical Hold Unit soldier said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
It is unusual for soldiers to have daily inspections after Basic Training. LINK
I think that many people can overlook a lawyer making a fairly good salary getting dismissed for not playing footsie with the politicians.
But hopefully this latest news about trying to punish wounded veterans because some of them have talked to reporters just may be the straw that breaks the back of the Bush camel. I hope it is.
(Hal Brown is a clinical social worker and former mental health center director who is mostly retired from his private psychotherapy practice. He writes on the psychopathology of public figures and other topics that pique his interest. He can be found online at www.stressline.com)