The Bush administration will leave us with another legacy: unqualified Republican ideologues receiving appointments in various institutions, including scientific organizations, as their ship of state sinks. The rats are scuttling overboard, and are being rewarded with captaincies on any available vessel. An article in the Washington post discusses the trend. I thought these were striking examples.
In one recent example, Todd Harding — a 30-year-old political appointee at the Energy Department — applied for and won a post this month at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. There, he told colleagues in a Nov. 12 e-mail, he will work on “space-based science using satellites for geostationary and meteorological data.” Harding earned a bachelor’s degree in government from Kentucky’s Centre College, where he also chaired the Kentucky Federation of College Republicans.
And in mid-July, Jeffrey T. Salmon, who has a doctorate in world politics and was a speechwriter for Vice President Cheney when he served as defense secretary, had been selected as deputy director for resource management in the Energy Department’s Office of Science. In that position, he oversees decisions on its grants and budget.
One of the best changes Obama could make in our government is to inspire a culture of competence. It looks like his ability to do that has just gotten much harder.