If Oil Were Jews

We’ve pretty well covered right here on RedState the incompetence of the Obama Administration in handling federal responsibilities associated with the oil spill. From Vladimir’s prize winning reportage from the begining to Jeff Dunetz only yesterday, to yours truly starting at about Day 8, we have all distinguished Obama and the government’s failure to do what is in its exclusive jurisdiction and duty to do, and what Bush failed to, with only a marginal legal mandate, in the immediate aftermath of Katrina. Like a really bad martini, It’s a horrible cocktail, two parts BP, and four parts Obama.

And while we watch this man-made tragedy still unfold and widen, we are daily reminded that these are the same people who say they can best administer health care in the United States, or run the banks, or even build cars, fergodsakes. But the scapegoat, as Jeff reminds us with the list of myriad of slow-downs and shut-downs of assistance in providing relief as recently as yesterday, is the bureaucracy itself, and while we may be angry about it, it still is true that everyone is just doing their job, following regulations, or “just following orders”. It’s the lawful way things are done. Insha’ Obama.

But as a reminder, there is a darker side to being able to put everything of importance into the hands of a nameless, faceless bureaucracy. And it doesn’t require too large a monkey wrench to turn that same endless (and mindless) line of sign-offs into a process to accomplish the darkest of deeds.

In the late 1970s a good friend of mine sat over the Red Phone in the Pentagon. Another worked down the hall in the Soviet department, a linguist. Over the years we often visited each other, in Washington, Annapolis, even West Point (where i always took time off to visit Custer’s grave and relieve myself) and my office in the southern bureau. And we did little war games. Theirs were military, mine was political.

My thesis was that the evil that was the Nazis and the holocaust was as much bureaucratic as it was malignant hatred. I posited that almost any city or state could replicate what the Nazis did, only to a smaller degree. And they would do it the same way, by separating people by type. This could be accomplished by manipulating various bureaucracies, state, federal, local, and various professions, especially medical and legal. I wasn’t sure they would find their way clear to kill young healthy people, but babies and old people, we’re already there, so the infirm, easy. Retarded? No sweat. Euthansia would be easy, but in theory, over time, you could push the envelope just about as far as you would want. Just create an acceptable justification for setting them apart (the mission, the national good), the rules of process (regulations) that would allow a number of profesionals to handle these people more as numbers than as humans, in as clinical and clerical a manner as possible, and then insure the signatures process (the sign-offs) be blindered just enough (deniability) so as not be able to see the end result of that signature. Then, at the end of the day they can and go home feeling they had served their country, and more importantly, perhaps, met the approval of their peers. They would feel good about themselves.

For the master puppeteer, I always felt all this could be done without leaving fingerprints, but one aspect I never thought about was producing a patsy. I never thought about putting some face out front which, just by looking at it, you trusted it. And behind that face a plainspoken, matter-of-fact manner that just evoked competence, compassion and genuineness. A man who understood, indeed, ate, drank and slept duty. One of us, the People…

…so that, after the sordid crimes of the scheme had been revealed, and after they had early-retired all those bureaucrats who marched those innocent people off to their “legally-prescribed fates”, they could then march this man out before the cameras one last time, then take him away to hang.

I give you Thad Allen.

So while we consider how afraid we should be that so much of our lives is now in the hands of such utter incompetence, it is equally important to remember, from still living memory, how easily the machinery of that incompetence can turn murderous and mean.

If Oil were Jews.