Andy Card Praises Public Service*

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Andy Card Praises Public Service*

* - when the public service provider is George W. Bush. In yesterday's Washington Post, Christopher Lee wrote:
Uncle Sam wants you -- well, not all of you.

Andrew H. Card Jr. had some candid advice for 2,000 Washington interns who gathered at the Ronald Reagan Building on Monday evening to hear him speak at an event intended to recruit talented people into the federal civil service. Some of you should go corporate, the White House chief of staff told them.

"There are many programs for young people to have employment opportunities, but the greatest employment opportunities in our society come through the private sector," said Card, a former vice president of General Motors Corp. ... "And so I don't think that everyone who is looking for a job should expect or even want a job with the federal government or one of our agencies. In fact, our economy would not do very well if people just worked for the government."
Very true, which may explain why "everyone who is looking for a job" is not seeking employment with the federal government. Since Card had to know that his audience was well aware of this fact, his remark is exposed as little more than a backhanded slap at the public sector.

In fairness, I should add that Lee reported that these remarks by Card were preceded by others in which Card did have something nice to say about public service -- at least when it's provided by a certain someone:
[Card] had just given a 30-minute speech on the value of public service, most of which focused on his great admiration for President Bush and his performance in the days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Card was speaking at an annual event that is hosted by the Partnership for Public Service. The Partnership is a nonprofit group whose mission is to make the federal government "an employer of choice for talented, dedicated Americans." Lee reported that Partnership President Max Stier had this reaction to Card's remarks:
"Taken in isolation you would say, 'Well, why would he say that?' " Stier said, adding that the comment has to be taken in a broader context. "He's saying that the private sector is the largest component of our economy and, therefore, most jobs are going to be there."
Yes, it was so important for Card to point out the obvious -- especially at an event designed to recruit young people for government jobs. (Back in the 1980s and '90s, how many Silicon Valley job recruiters felt it necessary to tell college students, "... Of course, I hasten to point out that the tech sector is only one of many sectors in the U.S. economy, and most of the jobs are going to be in those other sectors.")

I guess I shouldn't be surprised that Stier would offer this lame reaction. In Washington, that's how the game is played -- it's all about maintaining "access" and being "a player" (terms that they rarely define). So when the people in power practically spit in your eye, you respond by smiling, nodding appropriately and declaring yourself pleased.

You will never catch me asking myself or anyone (to paraphrase Stier): "Why would Andrew Card say that?" I know why he would say that, and so does Stier. Because the ideology that he and his Bushies embrace is largely about disparaging and demonizing government.

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