Sunday, March 05, 2006

What's wrong with the Bush administration decision making?

The Bush administration came into office with the idea that America was suffering from a lack of leadership. They have attempted to correct this lack. That's what Bush's whole schtick about "Stay the Course!" is all about. It is based on a theory that a true leader is decisive, correct, and does not change direction once he (and it is clearly a masculine trait) has decided.

The result is that they focus on the decision. Decisions are made by the Administration in the White House, and the function of the subordinates is to do as directed without criticizing. The decisions are made based on the intuition and attitudes of the leader. They brought those things to the office and feel they were given the office because of those attitudes and intuition.

What's missing is a major effort to collect the facts necessary to make the correct decisions, and to adapt to those new facts. This is one of the attitudes they brought to office. People who change are not leaders, and people who collect a lot of facts are likely to change previously made decision.

The result has been the continuous problem of this administration. They live in a bubble and are not open to new facts. They were so busy getting tax cuts and the Missile Defense Program enacted that they missed all the facts that suggested al Qaeda was about to attack the U.S. on 9/11. They were so set on attacking Iraq when Bush took office that they missed the real problems with al Qaeda in Afghanistan, which is why they attacked Iraq and have not yet gotten control of Afghanistan.

They were not open to the facts presented by the looting in Baghdad, so they missed the hints that the insurgency was building from the first day of the invasion. They knew that they were going to install a government of Iraqi exiles led by Ahmed Chalabi, so they fired Jay Garner after six weeks and replaced him with Jerry Bremer. Bremer then, attempting to implement the previously made Bush administration decisions, Bremer disbanded the Iraqi Army, Police and Civil Service and stopped paying government pensions in what had been a state-run economy. Don't bother them with facts, the ideology that took them into Iraq had to be implemented. That's leadership, right?

Bush is a conservative with the attitude that Social Security should not exist, so based on that attitude he announced right after reelection that he was going to restructure Social Security. Again, he listened to no one, just announced it and handed the job off to well-vetted conservatives to act on. What facts and polls could overcome the conservative shiboleth that Social Security is bad. The fact that he still isn't listening is demonstrated by the inclusion of privatizing Social Security in the budget Bush presented to Congress this year, well after it was known to be a dead project.

Katrina and Rita were another example. Bush and the Republicans made the decision to create the Department of Homeland Security and folded FEMA into it. Then left Chertoff to determine functions and training, which wasn't done adequately since they do not accept "criticism" of their decisions. Bush sat through the briefing we recently saw on TV without any noticeable reaction. He has no interest in how government is operated, that belongs to someone else to do. Bush just makes decisions, then speeches to "stay the course."

This explains why the White House has had an on-going battle with the Intelligence Community since Bush was first inaugurated. The CIA, DIA and INR all are institutions responsible for collecting new information and presenting it to policy makers so that they can adjust their decisions and actions to match the new conditions. The Bush people see this as nothing more than obstructionism, which is why Rumsfeld and Feith created the fake Intelligence operation in the Pentagon to "reevaluate" data received so that it didn't conflict with decisions already made. It also became a source of propaganda that could be used to support decisions already made.

The focus on decision-making rather than on evidence gathering is the great failure of this adminintration. Presently as things get worse for the Bush administration they are retreating to doing the things they know best. They are making decisions, staying the course, and fighting any obstructionists who attempt to criticize what they are doing.

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