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Proudly Out: Competence Over Cronyism

Proudly Out: Competence Over Cronyism

It feels so good to know that competence will once again take its rightful place over cronyism in our federal government. The presidential appointments of the last eight years have been nothing more than a parade of George W. Bush’s political pals. Competence was never really a factor.

It feels so good to know that competence will once again take its rightful place over cronyism in our federal government.

The presidential appointments of the last eight years have been nothing more than a parade of George W. Bush’s political pals. Competence was never really a factor.

Look at some of the greatest blunders of the last eight years and you’ll see what I mean.

There was Michael “You’re doing a heck of a job, Brownie” Brown’s handling Hurricane Katrina. Without any emergency management experience whatsoever, Brown was first appointed as FEMA’s General Counsel in January 2001 by then-FEMA director Joe Allbaugh. Allbaugh just happened to run Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign. In September 2001, Brown was named acting deputy director and when Allbaugh left government Bush nominated Brown to be FEMA director. He was sworn in April 2003. He had over two years as director under his belt before Katrina hit New Orleans. It didn’t seem to matter -- he wasn’t competent to do the job.

I guess Alberto Gonzalez is competent as an attorney. But as Attorney General, he let his legal know how be sidelined by political cynicism. Instead of overseeing the appointments of good lawyers who would pursue justice, he let Karl Rove and others in the administration force out competent attorneys and then hire legal hacks who would pursue neo-con justice. Gonzalez says he didn’t know what happened -- that he left those appointments up to his staff. Al, these were important positions. Any good manager would do the final vetting. Your feigned ignorance was just veiled incompetence.

Then there are the war in Iraq and our economy. The incompetence in handling both of these crises rests solely in the Oval Office and the Vice President’s underground bunker. Bush and Dick Cheney bankrupted the country in order to pursue their penchant for playing with guns while the rest of us end up trying to survive economically. They both fiddled while the sub-prime mortgage crisis burned out of control.

Soon this incompetence, this hubris, this cynicism, this inability to feel anyone else’s pain will come to an end. While I could wax poetic about the glory days to come in a Barack Obama administration, I know, as do we all, that there a lot of tough issues and circumstances to handle right up front -- like the two most defining incompetencies that the new administration is being saddled with, the economy and the war.

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But given the quality of the Obama appointments that are official and the ones that are being leaked, we can start to imagine what type of cabinet, what type of government we’ll soon have. Eight long years of incompetence is over. Integrity, inclusion and competence are back. So is an administration that values all of its citizens -- even the queer ones.

Eric Holder is slated to be our next Attorney General. Like Obama, he rose from modest means. He was born in Queens, excelled in school, made his way to Columbia for undergraduate and law school and eventually was named Deputy Attorney General under Janet Reno in 1997. He is also on record as supporting LGBT rights. While serving as United States Attorney for the District of Columbia in the 1990s, Holder met with gay activists over the issue of anti-gay hate crimes and created a unit in the U.S. attorney’s office that specialized in prosecuting hate crimes.

Tom Daschle, the former Senate Majority Leader, will become the next Secretary of Health and Human Services. While in the Senate, Daschle received a 100 percent rating from the Human Rights Campaign -- that means he co-sponsored pro-LGBT rights legislation or voted to protect our rights.

Then there’s Hillary Clinton. Whether she’s actually been offered the top spot at the Department of State is a matter for the inside the beltway rumor mill. We all know she’s being considered for Secretary of State. Some say she’s Obama’s number one choice. She’s not sure she wants to give up the independence of being a Senator. I don’t blame her. But whatever decision she makes -- whether to become Secretary of State or whether to stay my state’s U.S. Senator, the LGBT community will have an ally as we move our political agenda forward.

Whatever happens in the next few weeks, whoever takes the various positions, one thing we can be sure of is that those picks will be educated, competent and ready to hit the ground running on January 20th. What a relief after a government that has been ground to a halt by ineffectiveness and inability.

Miss the last "Proudly Out"? Read it here.

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Libby Post