Tribal Exceptionalism

Here's the conclusion to Matt's entertaining Prospect piece on the incompetence of Bush appointees:

The other possibility is that Republicans are so convinced that government is inefficient and full of people who don't know what they're doing that it just doesn't occur to them to do it any other way.

Nice. Naturally, Matt is implying that there is some other way to do it. But, no. The Republicans are right; that's just how government works. The problem with the Republicans is that they, being invested with power, are insufferably opportunistic hypocrites. They're not uniquely prone to cronyism. They're just prone to being in power, which is the enabling condition for the cronyism to which all political types aspire. And they're prone to the horribly annoying-to-libertarians habit of throwing libertarian-tinged rhetoric around when, obviously, they're champion statists. Now, I know Matt's a tough-minded realist. So I guess the point of implying that Democrats are less likely to “play politics” with political power was just to affirm his readers' unfounded faith in their tribe's intelligence and virtue. In that case, job well done.

Author: Will Wilkinson

Vice President for Research at the Niskanen Center