Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Burrowing In

It happens every four years: some political appointees of the outgoing administration "burrow in" to the career civil service. Apparently the outgoing Bush administration has approved 20 such moves, including 6 within the Senior Executive Service (the highest government pay ranks).

Now, this is hardly new and it's not even uniquely partisan; the outgoing Clinton administration approved 47 burrow-ins (including 7 SES moves). But it does particularly stick in one's craw when the outgoing President has a dismal approval rating and is busy making last-minute rules changes that will cement everything that got his party pushed out.

The President is just making life that much more difficult for his successor. He's putting rules in place that will take a year or two to unwind; he's appointing civil servants who will be difficult to push aside or fire. Sure, the practice is as old as the "midnight judges" appointed on the last day of the Adams presidency in 1801. But it's still rotten. And just brace yourself for the last-minute pardons that will likely follow.

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