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

La Follette School of Public Affairs Working Paper Series No. 2008-024

Suffolk University Law School Research Paper 09-17

Public Administration Review, Forthcoming

33 Pages Posted: 17 Dec 2008 Last revised: 20 Nov 2009

Donald P. Moynihan

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

Alasdair S. Roberts

University of Massachusetts Amherst - School of Public Policy

Date Written: May 15, 2009

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.

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

JEL Classification: D73

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: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1316554

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

University of Massachusetts Amherst - School of Public Policy ( email )

Thompson Hall
Amherst, MA 01003
United States
6175999029 (Phone)

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