Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Price of Cronyism

It was Supreme Court Justice Potter who coined the definition of obscenity with “I know it when I see it” in 1964. Cronyism is another term that tends to fall under the “I know it when I see it” umbrella, which makes one man’s crony another man’s loyal public servant. The Iraq rebuilding efforts, if you can call it that, more accurately the period after US troops marched into Baghdad, provides a fine examples of cronyism in action.

The Washington Post serves up a must read article outlining the results of the GOP efforts,

Twenty-four-year-old Jay Hallen was restless. He had graduated from Yale two years earlier, and he didn't much like his job at a commercial real-estate firm. His passion was the Middle East, and although he had never been there, he was intrigued enough to take Arabic classes and read histories of the region in his spare time.
He had mixed feelings about the war in Iraq, but he viewed the American occupation as a ripe opportunity. In the summer of 2003, he sent an e-mail to Reuben Jeffrey III, whom he had met when applying for a White House job a year earlier. Hallen had a simple query for Jeffrey, who was working as an adviser to Bremer: Might there be any job openings in Baghdad?
"Be careful what you wish for," Jeffrey wrote in response. Then he forwarded Hallen's resume to O'Beirne's office.
Three weeks later, Hallen got a call from the Pentagon. The CPA wanted him in Baghdad. Pronto. Could he be ready in three to four weeks?
The day he arrived in Baghdad, he met with Thomas C. Foley, the CPA official in charge of privatizing state-owned enterprises. (Foley, a major Republican Party donor, went to Harvard Business School with President Bush.) Hallen was shocked to learn that Foley wanted him to take charge of reopening the stock exchange.
"Are you sure?" Hallen said to Foley. "I don't have a finance background."

There’s more of the same in the rest of the article and we know post-Katrina, post HUD, well this isn’t an administration that takes care to actually govern now doesn’t it? Those on the left rightfully decry this rampant product of cronyism, until that is when one looks to the recent scion of Connecticut liberal idolatry, Ned Lamont.

There is nothing in Lamont’s background to suggest that he has the capabilities to rise above sub-mediocrity and become more than a just another crony, mixing who-you-know-connections over practical experience and meritocracy. Ned’s world is the mix of social privilege established by his lineage, which itself is not the issue. It's whether one merits advancement into positions based on capability and execution versus who you know. And, admittedly a little of both is not a bad thing.

In looking at candidate Ned Lamont it is clear that has been handed assets and connections with no great results. Ned’s cable company is neither a tech innovator nor a leader in the cable industry. It hasn't even grown to a scale that someone with his background should have been able to attain. Sure the counter argument could be that he was just not cut out for the hard driving tech business world. But on these business merits alone, its enough to wonder what are his capabilities. Then there's his political expereince. His first attempt at politics only led him to resign from the Greenwich DTC because "he got tired of reading a bunch of resolutions passed by the DTC that I don't always agree with."

There was a time that political parties strove to get the best and the brightest to run for office. It seems that fealty to ideology has replaced that noble pursuit. Neither side should tolerate it.

Washington Post, Ties to GOP Trumped Know-How Among Staff Sent to Rebuild Iraq Rajiv Chandrasekaran, September 17, 2006.

Kansas City Star Politics at play in HUD deals
An internal review says the housing secretary discouraged giving contracts to Democrats.
TODD J. GILLMAN Friday Sept. 21, 2006.


Anonymous said...

Trfgrrl -

Listen, I'm no fan of Ned either but you really need to consider taking up a hobby. This is getting to be border line obsession for you.

Bobby McGee said...

Are you honestly trying to portray Lamont as having more "connections" than Lieberman?

Is this the Lieberman, who's wife is a Pharmaceutical lobbyist? Who was instrumental in promoting Brown to head of FEMA? Who calls in Bill Clinton and Barbara Boxer to help save his sinking primary campaign? Who has tens of millions of dollars in his war-chest? Who shares campaign staff with Governor Rell? Who portrays his opponents as terrorists? Who's whole campaign is built on being able to pull more strings then Lamont will be able to?

I'm sure Sen. Lamont is going to roll over and let the Bush Administration do whatever they want. Not like Sen. Lieberman, who fought the Bush administration every step of the way leading up to the war.

Anonymous said...


Joe Lieberman doesn't hesitate to send other people's kids to die in Iraq for no good reason.

Ned Lamont is spending millions of dollars of his own money to stop the carnage and to change politics in Washington--including the cronyism that you object to.

Right or wrong, Ned has the guts to stand up for what he believes in. I trust Lamont a lot more than the idiots who got us into this mess, and who continue to lie to cover their mistakes.

If you want to change politics in Washington, change the politicians.

Vote for Ned Lamont, Diane Farrell, Chris Murphy and Joe Courtney.

Anonymous said...

Turfgrrl's arguments are getting increasingly absurd.

Anonymous said...

you forgot to remind people to vote for McLean and Villano

Jim said...

Only Turfgrl could twist the Bush Lieberman debacle in Iraq into an anti-Lamont argument.

Get help, please.

Anonymous said...

The argument is so backwards its funny. Vote for Lieberman b/c cronyism is bad. Yeah, Lieberman doesn't subscribe at all to cronyism...

I'll point out that while Lamont was raised in an extremely privileged household, he did manage to build a pretty successful company. That's more than I can say for myself, and I suspect more than you can say for yourself Turfgrl, and I KNOW its more than Joe Lieberman can say for himself.

turfgrrl said...

Bobby McGee-- Sure I'm making that argument. What has Lamont managed to achieve on his own merits? What has Lieberman achieved on his own merits? But more importantly, why is political fealty more important than individual capabilities? My list of crony-candidates spans both parties? Does yours?

Jim said...

So Hadassah Lieberman's lobbying career is not "cronyism"?

Anonymous said...

By this Ann Coulter Logic aren't you yourself a much bigger failure then Ned Lamont and certainly Genghis must be a total failure?

Anonymous said...

Get out of the gutter, please.

Sure, I guess you could accuse Ned Lamont of living a "who you know" existence. But to compare that to the political cronyism of the Bush administration, or of DC insiders like Joe Lieberman and his lobbyist wife is just a joke.

Who is selling out our government for political favors and campaign donations? It won't be the Lamont crowd.

In the name of fair argument, please go take a look at Lieberman's donor list, than come back and re-make your argument.

Anonymous said...

Is this post real? Or parody?

FrankS said...

You have to wonder about the lack of Congressional oversight that allows such cronyism and waste to occur.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Just because the Washington Post did the article doesn't mean it has merit. Perhaps it does. Perhaps it doesn't.

Two questions on the Bush cronyism:

1) How many positions are in question?

2) How many applicants were there for each position?

The article paints a bad picture, but it really needs to be substantiated by solid numbers.

I just doubt that even in 2003 there were many Americans applying for any positions in Iraq.

As for Ned and his capabilities... he is older than 29 and is American. Therefore he is 100% qualified to be Connecticut's next U.S. Senator.

Turfgrrl... please stop the anti-Ned, anti-Repub drumbeat.

Joe has plenty of positives to talk up.

BRubenstein said...

Turfgrrl in her usual strident killer bee style reduces Ned Lamont to a caricature that no one knows and is way way off the mark...

BRubenstein said...

Frrfgrrl in her usual strident pro-lieberman custom tries to reduce Lamont to a caricature of himself..and fails...tsk tsk..

turfgrrl said...

FrankS- Yeah, the 109th is the most do-nothing congress since the 1940's. There's a nice graph here. 239 days in session versus the 80th congress' 252 in 1948.

turfgrrl said...

To the various posters who seem somewhat challenged by the use of "cronysim":
Noun 1. cronyism - favoritism shown to friends and associates (as by appointing them to positions without regard for their qualifications)source.

It's the lack of qualifications that's the point. Please, for once just make an argument that Lamont is qualified instead of the rote non-defense that seemingly springs out of that kool-aid.

Jim said...


I think I understand the problem now. You seem to be laboring under the misimpression that you have made some sort of point that can and should be logically argued against. What you've done is twist a national tragedy to fit your odd parochial obsession. Your original post didn't make any sense, so no one can or should address it seriously.

turfgrrl said...

jim- et tu jim.

Jim said...

turfgrrl said...
jim- et tu jim.

Well, once again your lack of logic is unassailable.

By the way, didja see your boy is not just proWar, but proTorture! How could any good American not vote for such a towering statesman.

ProgCT said...

Even if Ned isn't qualified he should still get everyone's votes over Joe "Torture" Lieberman.

Hell if Ned Lamont had a 70 IQ and thought tieing his shoes was a good day he would still deserve our votes over Lieberman. Having a senator who does nothing is preferable to one who helps destroy what America stands for.

disgruntled_republican said...


Weak arguement. Very weak. (And you can't pay me enough to vote for Ned...not happening)

Any chance that you know what the qualifications are for being a United States Senator?

From Article I, Section 3 of the US Constitution: each senator must be at least 30 years old, must have been a citizen of the United States for at least the past nine years, and must be (at the time of the election) an inhabitant of the state they seek to represent.

Now which one of these does Ned not fit into?

Anonymous said...

Well said disgruntled. Running for political office requires no qualifications. And many fit that description - just look at the legislature.