There’s one thing I wanted to add to my previous post on the Gulf Oil spill but didn’t think it was reasonable to work in. This has been a recurring theme here but I’d like to put a little flesh on its bones. Look closely at the White House cabinet, the president’s closest advisors. With rare exception they are lawyers (Biden, Clinton, Holder, Salazar, Vilsack, Locke) or apparatchiks and hangers-on (Solis, Sebelius, Donovan, LaHood, Duncan, Emanuel, Jackson, Rice).
The exceptions are Tim Geithner, Christine Romer, and Peter Orszag, economists, Steven Chu, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, Eric Shinseki, a West Point-educated four-star general, and Robert Gates, a Sovietologist and intelligence guy.
None of them has ever started a business, made a payroll, built a bridge or a building, or, possibly, run a large project with specific deliverables or even hired somebody to do that. Of all of President Obama’s cabinet those I’d trust most to do those things are Steven Chu (physicists frequently actually build things) and Eric Shinseki. They’re the secretaries of the Department of Energy and the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, respectively.
Formally, technocracy means the rule by experts or authorities. Practically, it means that authorities in some particular field run every field.
There is apparently an idea abroad in the land that any bright attorney from a good school can do anything. It ain’t necessarily so.
A question that I’ll leave to the legal eagles in the commentariat is are they good lawyers? From my untutored vantage point that doesn’t seem to be the case. The issues of Guantanamo and the trial of Khalil Sheikh Muhammed would appear to me to be purely legal issues and it doesn’t appear to me that the administration has covered itself in glory in those matters.
However, I’m content to leave that assessment to the experts.