Steve Pearlstein Goes Off On Everyone

The Washington Post’s Steve Pearlstein is an insightful writer. But sometimes a good venting is better than wisdom. Here Pearlstein manages both–an I’m-mad-as-hell, leave-no-one-spared tirade that covers all three sides of Washington’s Iron Triangle (Congress, the Executive and Lobbyists,) the private sector, Universities, State Governments, Unions and just about everyone in between. The column is so right on so many subjects, I’d have to reproduce its entirety here (which isn’t fair to the Washington Post) or you could go there and finish it.

Here Pearlstein is just tuning up with the tone-deaf Daschle nomination:

For the American public, Daschle became the latest symbol of everything that is wrong with Washington — the influence-peddling and corner-cutting and sacrifice of the public good to private interest. Now that this system has let them down, and left them poorer and anxious about the future, people are angry about it and no longer willing to accept the corruption of the public process and the whole notion of public service.

The irony, of course, is that Barack Obama understood all this and tapped into Americans’ frustration as the central message of his “change” campaign. But even he, with only four years in Washington, failed to see the depth of the problem or anticipate the ferocity of the backlash.

Obama’s first mistake was to hand the keys of the transition office over to a crew made up almost exclusively of Washington insiders who — surprise! — have largely succeeded in restoring to power their friends from the Clinton administration. Worse still, he has fallen for the tired old Washington “wisdom” that the only way to get anything done is to concentrate even more power in an ever larger White House full of czars and councils and chiefs of staff who ostensibly are there to “coordinate” policy but invariably wind up making it, sapping the departments and agencies of whatever importance and energy and creativity they have left.

At the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, congressional leaders, while nodding in the direction of bipartisan cooperation, have also stuck largely to business as usual. It’s hard to know who is to blame more for the party-line vote in the House on a desperately needed economic stimulus bill — the Republicans who cling to stale ideology and spout economic nonsense or the Democrats who shut them out of the drafting process, never bothered to articulate a compelling rationale and lost a golden opportunity to reform the programs as they were expanding them.


Stumbing on their Sense of Entitlement
Washington Post; February 4, 2009

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