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The Triumph of Loyalty Over Competence: The Bush Administration and the Exhaustion of the Politicized Presidency


Donald P. Moynihan


University of Wisconsin - Madison - Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs

Alasdair S. Roberts


Truman School of Public Affairs

May 15, 2009

La Follette School of Public Affairs Working Paper Series No. 2008-024
Suffolk University Law School Research Paper 09-17
Public Administration Review, Forthcoming

Abstract:     
The most important administrative aspect of the George W. Bush presidency was not its formal management reform agenda, but its attempt to extend the politicized presidency. Efforts to assert tighter political control of the federal bureaucracy, revived during the Reagan administration, was pushed to an extreme under Bush. Loyalty routinely triumphed competence in selection, and rationality was often displaced by political goals in decision-making. But the strategy of politicization undermined the Bush administration's own policy goals as well as its broader project to restore the institution of the Presidency. The profound failure of this strategy may signal a reconsideration of the politicized presidency.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 33

Keywords: President Bush, management, Iraq, Katrina, political appointees, politicization, presidency

JEL Classification: D73


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Date posted: December 17, 2008 ; Last revised: November 20, 2009

Suggested Citation

Moynihan, Donald P. and Roberts, Alasdair S., The Triumph of Loyalty Over Competence: The Bush Administration and the Exhaustion of the Politicized Presidency (May 15, 2009). La Follette School of Public Affairs Working Paper Series No. 2008-024; Suffolk University Law School Research Paper 09-17; Public Administration Review, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1316554

Contact Information

Donald P. Moynihan (Contact Author)
University of Wisconsin - Madison - Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs ( email )
1180 Observatory Drive
Madison, WI 53706-1393
United States
Alasdair S. Roberts
Truman School of Public Affairs ( email )
101 Middlebush Hall
Columbia, MO 65201
United States
HOME PAGE: http://www.aroberts.us
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